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Trygve Allister Diesen's Red

If Death Wish had begun with armed thugs killing Charles Bronson's dog instead of his wife, and Bronson had spent the rest of the movie merely trying to obtain an apology, it might have looked something like Red. Refreshingly low-key, this mostly gore-free horror outing is based on a novel by cult author Jack Ketchum and credited to two directors (Norwegian filmmaker Trygve Allister Diesen took over the reins from May auteur Lucky McKee after myriad production problems temporarily closed down the shoot). In a broadly entertaining (if faintly hammy) performance, the barrel-chested Scotsman Brian Cox stars as Avery Ludlow, a courtly country gentleman who just wants to sit by the river and fish in peace—until a trio of nogoodnik rich kids decide it would be fun to rob him at gunpoint and give his mangy old hound a shotgun blast to the head. As Ludlow seeks that perpetual enigma— "justice"—Red traipses over some suitably ambiguous sociological ground concerning wealth, privilege, and personal morality, without ever delving too deeply beneath the surface, The movie's escalating series of tit-for-tat revenge ploys becomes a bit tedious even at 95 minutes, but Cox and a rich (if not always well-served) supporting cast that includes Tom Sizemore, Amanda Plummer, and Robert Englund keep it more than watchable throughout.

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