The Washington Times - October 22, 2008, 12:58PM

Avery Ludlow is a simple man living in complex times.

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His house lacks cable television, or even any TV set for that matter. He fishes when it pleases him, always acts neighborly to friends and strangers alike, and he wouldn’t hurt a soul. But someone just shot his dog, and Avery won’t rest until justice is served - or he gets a heartfelt apology.

“Red” isn’t your typical vigilante flick.

 

Brian Cox plays Avery, a southern gentleman whose life dealt him one bad hand too many. A trio of punks accost Avery at the local fishing hole, and when they can’t get a rise out of him, or any cash, they shoot his ancient dog, Red.

Avery quickly finds out the name of the shooter and confronts the boy’s father (Tom Sizemore, clean, sober and in fine form). But the dad is an even bigger punk than his son, and he’s got enough clout in their small town to prevent Avery from getting justice.

“Red” plays out much like the recent release “Lakeview Terrace.” Both movies wallow in genre trappings but rise above them thanks to fine acting and a savvy script.

Sadly, both films all but collapse in the final 15 minutes.

“Red” screenwriter Stephen Susco creates a rich back story for Avery along with some some chilling confrontations between the main characters. And the addition of a feisty TV reporter (Kim Dickens) only bolsters the story. But Susco is less generous with other supporting players, leaving veterans like Amanda Plummer and Robert Englund adrift.

Like the best of all simple stories, “Red” is about much more than a man’s love for his dog. Avery is a throwback, a man who lives in a world where honor and integrity still very much matter. The boys who took his dog away, and their alternately clueless and vile parents, stand as the sociatal forces out to negate Avery’s kindess.

That struggle is more than enough for me to recommend “Red,” even if it ends on a sour note.

(Photo: Brian Cox plays an old man seeking revenge against a punk who killed his dog in “Red.”)