Red, White & Blue * * *

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Director: Simon Rumley.
Screenplay: Simon Rumley.
Starring: Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter, Jon Michael Davis, Patrick Crovo, Nick Holden, Mary Mathews.

I’m not a fan of unnecessary violence in movies but when it’s delivered in a psychological fashion like Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” or possibly Shane Meadows’ “Dead Man’s Shoes” then I can certainly go with it and respect the skill of the filmmaker. This shares some similarities with those aforementioned films but ultimately became far too savage and obstinate for me to fully appreciate.

Erica (Amanda Fuller) is promiscuous Texan woman who has frequent, casual sexual relations with different men and completely indiscriminate in her choice of partners. One night she meets Iraqi Vet, Nate (Noah Taylor) and strikes up a genuine affection and friendship. However, Erica goes missing one day and Nate decides to look for her which uncovers some wrong doing and also brings out a sociopathic nature in the seemingly gentle Veteran.

A film of two halves: The first, slow and methodical as it builds the relationships between the characters. During this time, it’s filled with empty and loveless sexual encounters. It has a deliberate pace that may lose the interest of some viewers during this time. However, the second half of the film picks up the pace considerably and relentlessly. It’s filled with violence and retribution and falls into torture porn territory with a frighteningly realistic and ambiguous performance from Noah Taylor. It’s a shift in tone I wasn’t fully prepared for and, as a result, found it a little hard to stomach. This is saying something, as just days before, I had sat down to the dark and disturbing William Friedkin film “Killer Joe” and enjoyed it immensely. The content of that movie was was no picnic (in more ways than one) but this film outstripped even that in terms of it’s lasting and unsettling effect. If I had fully known what I was getting into with this, I’d probably have avoided it. That being said, I can’t fault the construction and skill of director Simon Rumley on his pervading sense of dread or commentary on modern America but the resultant material just isn’t for me. The most interesting aspect is seeing Noah Taylor flex his acting chops in a style that we’re unaccustomed to and proves that despite still being relatively undervalued, he’s a very fine actor.

A stark and uncompromising film that’s very well handled but when it’s disturbing and violent nature takes hold, the content is very tough going. Be aware, there’s a good chance this film will linger long after viewing it.

Mark Walker

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23 Responses to “Red, White & Blue * * *”

  1. I remember reading a review on one of the big horror sites a few years back about a festival screening of this. I always wanted to seek it out as they described it as being violent but excellent. Sadly I never caught it, but I saw it was playing on Sky last night. Sadly so was Kardashians & some other crap so my wife refused to let me record it! I will watch it one day, but as you mentioned, its not one for the faint hearted. I had the knowledge of this though, wasnt going in blind like you. Still sounds like you took something away from it! Great write up as always Mark 🙂

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    • Thanks bro. There’s is no doubt that this was a very well made film. My original rating was 4 out of 5 but it took me a while to get rid of the bad taste it left me with. I also took me a while to write a review as I didn’t really want to think about it.

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  2. I’m not a fan of unnecessary violence either. It just leaves me with the feeling that the filmmakers are going for the shock value to make up for a poor film. Obviously it can work but you need the rest of the film to back the violence up. Great write up, man.

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    • In fairness everyone does a fine job here and I struggle to think of how the film could have been done without a bit of gratuity. That being said, I rated it with a 3 as I can’t quite go for things of a torture porn nature. This is certainly a better film than the likes of Hostel but still hard to take. Thanks Chris.

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  3. filmfellahenry Says:

    Interesting review Mark, will have to give this one a shot. Im pretty tolerant when it comes to the old ultraviolence (probably due to my penchant for horror), and like you enjoyed Killer Joe, however i have little patience for torture porn: films like the Saw sequels for example are just plain lazy in my opinion. Nice one mate.

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    • Thanks Henry. If truth be told, the old ultra-violence doesn’t normally bother me either but torture’s a different bag altogether. That being said, this film is extremely well done. It wasn’t just the violence that was an issue, it was the overall uneasy tone. For some it will work an absolute treat but I didn’t like the nasty aftertaste I was left with. I wasn’t even going to write about it but hey, it’s our job to inform others, is it not?

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  4. Dude – I thought this movie was decent until the last twenty minutes and then WTF??????? REALLY????? BARF.

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  5. I adore Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes, it far exceeding his more publicly lauded This is England. It never fails to depress the hell out of me though. Your description of Rumley’s film sounds not a little distasteful. There are many films that seem to feel it’s necessary to resort to “torture porn” in order to draw in an audience. It’s a shame. Nice review though! 🙂

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    • Thanks Mike. I’m with you on Meadows’ “Dead Man’s Shoes”. It’s my favourite movie of his. Meadows could quite have easily resorted to a “torture porn” ending but he didn’t and that what made the film for me. This is a good film up until the heavy physical torture. It does make a good commentary on the state of modern America but it just went a little too far.

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  6. “…but ultimately became far too savage and obstinate for me to fully appreciate” Um, I don’t think this is my cup of tea at all, Mark. It was very hard for me even watching the scenes in The Whistleblower and that was mostly off camera and it definitely was not ‘torture porn.’ I’m interested to see Noah Taylor’s other work though, apparently he was in the 2nd Tomb Raider movie w/ GB 🙂

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    • I can take violence in films Ruth and my threshold is pretty high but stuff of this films nature is too much for me. It a very well made film though and many will probably rate it higher.

      I remember Noah Taylor in Tomb Raider but it’s a film I’d rather forget to honest 😉 didn’t like it at all.

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      • Ahah, I only watched TR II for one reason only, Mark. I think you know what that is 😉 It’s interesting that Daniel Craig was in the first TR movie, but yeah, both Craig and GB were only playing Angelina’s boy toy.

        I think I’ll find another film w/ Noah Taylor, I don’t think this type of films would sit well with me.

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      • I know exactly what that reason was Ruth… Angelina! 😉

        Yeah find another Taylor film to view. I know how you feel about violence and this certainly has it. Check out “Submarine” if you haven’t seen it. It’s a great little Welsh film with Taylor and Paddy Considine. A fantastic little movie.

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  7. Excellent review, Mark! I wasn’t totally enamored with this film, but I thought it had many strengths. I really liked the moral ambiguity in the story and characters and I thought Noah Taylor’s performance was terrific.

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    • Thanks Steph. I couldn’t agree more with you there. It was definitely well done and Taylor was superb but I didn’t care much for the behaviour of any of the characters. I just couldn’t identify with them.

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  8. Haven’t heard of this but I’m not a huge fan of gratuitous violence…thinking I’ll pass it by…

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  9. […] Proactive Mark Walk reviews Red, White, and Blue.  […]

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