Directed by: Savvas D. Michael
Written by: Savvas D. Michael
Starring: Jack Turner, Fernanda Diniz, Jamie Crew
Film Review by: Patrick Foley
Red Rage Movie Review
British gangster movies have always had an embrace for the absurd. Extravagant caricatures, pounding rock music, and shootouts that even the Wachowskis would find OTT are practically staples of the scene these days, and new directors always seem to be on the lookout for ways to up the stakes. Red Rage’s scatter-shot approach covers a lot of cliches, experiments with bizarre elements and misses plenty of beats - but stumbles upon some fine performances and uncovers some surprising depth along the way.
The emergence of a new drug – known as ‘Red Devil’ – has led to an explosion of violent crime. As addicts like Riley (Jamie Crew) scavenge the city looking for their next hit, vigilante couple Oscar (Jack Turner) and Ella (Fernanda Diniz) take it upon themselves to rid the drug dealers from the streets following a vision from God. All paths seem to lead to drug-dealer extraordinaire Hugo (Ian Reddington), the lonely, aloof creator of the city’s new craze. But his new cowboy hat-wearing, pistol-toting friend Gabriel (Matt Lapinskas) stands in everyone’s way…
From the plot description alone, audiences can probably figure out how farcical Red Rage sets out to be. This is a wild, erratic and unfocused rampage through an underworld trying to handle the x-factor of a new drug – and the strange cast of characters it has pulled out of the shadows. The plot is generally weak and loosely strung together – with little time spent explaining the world the characters operate in. Ensemble cast movies generally rely on clear explanation of each character’s relationships and motivations – even if it is unclear how they fit into a larger story. Sufficient world-building is lacking here, instead resulting in tangents for each character that distract from attempts to tell a larger story.
The real entertainment value comes from the lavish and cartoonish performances. The cast embrace are permitted to embrace the film’s silliness by director Savvas D. Michael. Jack Turner and Fernanda Diniz are equally suave and disturbing as the anti-Bonnie and Clyde couple Oscar and Ella. Matt Lapinskas’ Gabriel feels like a crazed outlaw transplanted from a Western B-movie – which works so much better than it really should. But the standout is Jamie Crew as Riley – a desperate Red Devil addict scouring the city for any trace of the sought-after drug. Despite his horrific actions, viewers can’t help but feel some sympathy for the tragedy that his life has become – and it is his example of the dangers of the drug that adds so much more depth to the rest of the cast.
The film does manage to touch on themes that viewers may assume would be above the remit of an action-comedy gangster film. The class divide between the warring parties is notable – with characters from privileged background inserting themselves into the murky underworld for their own perverse desires rather than necessity. Conversely, the likes of Hugo or Riley who have little choice but to do what they can to survive in the warzone their environment has become are portrayed very differently. Every character becomes a victim one way or another by the end, but the effective portrayal of the cast through the performances and themes that anchor the film leads the audiences to very different conclusions on who deserves what they get.
It’s hard to tell whether Red Rage’s successes were by design, or the result of throwing so much at the wall that something was bound to stick. Regardless, the end-product is a fun and colourful, if ultimately frivolous action movie that does not quite match the heights of the genre – but provides a fun evening’s watch nonetheless.
Red Rage will be available on DVD & Digital Download from 12th April