Red 71 (2007) – By Duane L. Martin

 The website has a nice description of what’s in this film, so I’ll just paste this blurb from the site:

Red 71 is a stylistic neo-noir mystery, set in a peculiar desert town, whose characters form a web of relationships.  Shane, a self-styled gumshoe, expresses himself sparingly and yearns for beautiful and calculating Lorain.  She induced him to invest in her husband Charley’s illicit club, 71, and wants him to stop Del, her mercurial lover, from assaulting Charley. When Charley is brutally murdered, the police have a suspect – then Del is murdered. Now everyone is a possible killer. The story unravels to reveal the killer and answer the question, How far could one go to posses what he will never have?

Now often times I’ll say that a full length movie would have worked better as a short.  In this case, that’s probably true to a degree, but I also think it would have worked better if there had just been more to it.

See, the biggest problem with this film is that the only way for it to be slower paced would be for it to actually be in a coma.  I think this incredibly slow pacing also led to the story being a bit confusing, simply because it took so long to get from one important piece of the story to the next.  It’s the kind of a film that will have you constantly reaching for your fast forward button.

The acting was a mixed bag.  Some of the cast did a really good job with their roles, while the rest all seemed to be half asleep.  The lead character sounded like he was reading his dialogue, or perhaps just reciting it from memory, I don’t know which.  In any case, it was completely lacking and made the character very one dimensional.  It’s ok if some of your side characters end up rather one dimensional, but when your main character is, that’s a problem.  There really wasn’t anyone in this film you could care about in the least, which kind of lowers the immersion factor for the viewer.

Where this film did work for me was in the cinematography.  There were a lot of really nice, well done shots in this film, especially in the desert scenes.  The set design was also nicely done and between the two they set a very nicely styled look for the film.  The editing was quite well done, setting aside the pacing issues, and the sound was pretty good.  I did have trouble hearing dialogue in parts, but it never got to the point of being a major problem.  On a technical level, all the pieces were there.  On an acting level, some of the pieces were there, and on a story level, the pieces just needed to be moved closer together.

And one last thing I’d like to mention is that Angus Scrimm, The Tall Man from the Phantasm series, has a bit part as the police morgue guy in this film.  The problem is, he’s completely wasted.  When you get a chance to have someone as awesome as Angus Scrimm appear in your film, at least come up with something good for them, if not in action, at least in dialogue.  We get to see him in this film twice.  Once sitting at a desk making peanut butter and sardine sandwiches and the other time he’s checking out a bulletin board and leaves a severed foot sitting on the table and has to come back and pick it up.  That’s pretty much it.  His dialogue was minimal.  This is just me personally talking here, but man, I was really disappointed to see him so under-utilized.

In the end though, the only question that matters with regards to this review is, could I recommend this film?  Well, yes and no.  It would depend on the person.  If you’re into slow paced films with gangsters and stylish cinematography, like some of the ones Japanese director Takashi Miike has made, then I think you might enjoy it.  If you’re not into that style of film though, you’d probably get bored with this one.  Generally, despite its problems, it’s not a bad film per se…just slow.  I do see a lot of future potential in director Patrick Roddy’s work though, and would definitely be interested in seeing what he comes out with next.

If you’d like to find out more about this film you can check out it’s page on Patrick Roddy’s website at http://web.mac.com/patrickroddy/iWeb/Site/RED%2071.html.