Directed by John Swab, and starring Josh Hartnett,Frank Grillo, and Melissa Leo,Ida Red follows a crime family and the aftermath of a job gone wrong. It's a thriller that was supposed to be about the effects of upholding a legacy and intergenerational crime but is instead a lackluster heist film with flat characters.
An echo of a greater story.Ida Red is essentially a copy and paste flick that adds nothing new to the “one more big score and I’m out” subgenre. It is not captivating enough to keep you focused, but it's bearable enough to keep you watching. The script needed to be fleshed out more; certain aspects of the story felt rushed, leaving characters and subplots to be underdeveloped. Ultimately, Ida Red’s biggest misstep is focusing too much on plot movement and not enough on character dimension. The characters' identities revolve around crime and there is little sense of them as people. It is because of this the film feels as though it’s knocking off a checklist rather than supplying a thoughtful narrative. Why should I care about these characters when the story itself doesn’t?
Elements that did work.Ida Red is buoyed by a strong cast. They are nicely in tune with one another, even though there was a ton of dialogue that didn’t say anything. Josh Hartnett churns out a decent performance. You can tell he’s trying his best with the given script. Despite being the titular character, Melissa Leo provides a glorified cameo and is poster fodder. She has like 7 minutes of screentime and effortlessly delivers that shit like it’s just another Tuesday. Frank Grillo is the standout. He goes all in and it is fantastic. He has a dance sequence in a fishnet shirt that will leave you terrified but maybe also turned on? His performance commands attention. I will give John Swab his flowers for being able to direct a strong cast. He also had some tightly shot sequences that worked well, but overall, his film is average at best.
Elements that didn’t work.Script aside, the score and editing also didn’t help this film much. David Sardy's score is far too big for this film and made everything more intense than it was. It had a way of tricking you into thinking something big was going down when in reality, the characters are just having an inconsequential conversation driving down the highway. There were also some rough editing choices, like showing a character sitting in a car when we just saw said character get out of the car. There were even some laughable transitions, one of which included a wipe. It’s like they hired a college sophomore using Final Cut Pro.
What could have been a tense slow-burn ended up being a subpar crime thriller with no sense of character.