Fantasia Film Review 2021: IDA RED

Rating: B-/C+

The new crime thriller written and directed by John Swab (Body Brokers), Ida Red, may not be the most original in story, but I did find it entertaining and a good switch from the other films I was viewing virtually during the Fantasia International Film Festival. I have viewed many films that star Frank Grillo, including this year’s Cop Shop with Gerard Butler and Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, where he stars in roles of some sleezy characters, but in Ida Red he seems to have punched up his character’s sleezyness a few notches as Dallas Walker, the brother of Ida “Red” Walker (Melissa Leo, The Fighter), head of this Oklahoma crime family. I was drawn to the film because of Melissa Leo, as well as Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor) who portrays her son, Wyatt. All three of the actors give their best to boost the film in many scenes we have seen before of robberies, as well as how the money moves between those who appear to be fine, upstanding gentlemen and the criminal world and the body count that builds up when deals are broken among them.

Cinematographer Matt Clegg starts off the initial scene with very little lighting when a truck robbery is taking place and that is not because of bad work, but one of the robbers involved is the protagonist, Wyatt Walker (Hartnett) and trying to keep a low profile as he still has a “regular” business in town. He does not want to draw attention to himself or have anyone know that he has been assigned by his mother, Ida “Red” Walker (Leo), to take care of her “family business” while she is in prison. 

Unfortunately, Uncle Dallas (Grillo, The Purge: Anarchy) is not as careful and his lack of attention to details when he shoots people, or at least threatens them, quickly is detected by FBI special agent Lawrence Twilley (William Forsythe). Of course, the local law has to be involved and it is Bodie Collier (George Carroll), married to Wyatt’s sister Jeanie (Deborah Ann Woll, Escape Room, “True Blood” TV series). They care for their teen, Wyatt’s beloved niece Darla (Sofia Hublitz).

Ida Red knows her illness while in prison is terminal and she tasks Wyatt to find a way for her to die any place else other than behind bars. With the law now stepping on his heels, Wyatt gives it his best shot. You know the rest, but you will find one twist along the way and what might become of the business.

Additional cast includes Mark Boone Junior and Beau Knapp, among others

Rated R, 1 hour 51 minutes

After premiering at the Fantasia International Film Festival in August 2021, “Ida Red” is available on VOD on November 5, 2021.

Source: Saban Films

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