Film Review: Running Red (dir by Jerry P. Jacobs)

I have to admit that I feel a little bit cheated by the 1999 film, Running Red.

I figured that, with a name like Running Red, the film would be about a redhead who did a lot of running.  Since I am a redhead that does a lot of running, I figured that I would be able to relate to this film.  Unfortunately, while it’s true that the film does feature a redhead, she doesn’t get to do much running.  In fact, she doesn’t really get to do much of anything.  Katherine (Angie Everhart) is mostly just there to support her husband, except for those moments that she thinks he’s cheating on him because he’s lied to her about being a former mercenary.

Her husband, who is played by Jeff Speakman, goes by the name of Greg.  He’s got a beard and he sells real estate and he has to go on a lot of business trips.  However, before he grew the beard, Greg’s name was Grigori and he was apparently a Russian even though, even in the flashbacks that open the film, he never had a Russian accent.  Grigori was a part of some sort of weird Russian military unit but he grew disgusted with the ruthlessness of the unit’s leader, Alexi (Stanley Kamel).  After one particularly brutal mission, Grigori dropped his submachine gun to the ground.  In the movie, this is shown to us in slow motion so we know what that this isn’t just a standard shot of a soldier carelessly dropping a loaded weapon.  No, this shot is significant.  This is the …. SLO MO OF DISILLUSIONMENT!

Anyway, a few years pass and Grigori is now Greg and he’s married to Katherine and they have a daughter.  When two meth addicts steal Greg’s SUV (with his daughter in the backseat), Greg promptly steals an ambulance and chases them down.  Using his Russian combat training, Greg beats up the two men.  He thinks that no one has seen him but it just so happens that some old busy body was outside with a video camera.  Greg makes the news!

Unfortunately, the news report is seen by Alexi.  Alexi tracks Greg down and demands that Greg help him out with a few more missions.  Wishing to protect his family, Greg agrees.  He winds up not only lying to his wife about why he suddenly has to go to Detroit but he also misses her high school reunion!  (She even had her old cheerleading outfit cleaned for the special occasion.)  Greg really should know better than to lie to a redhead.  He also should have known better than to think Alexi was ever going to leave him alone.  Greg soon discovers that Alexi isn’t going to be satisfied with just a few missions.  In fact, Alexi wants Greg to assassinate a city councilman who either supports or opposed the construction of a stadium.  To be honest, I kind of had a hard time keeping straight how everyone felt about the stadium.

It may seem as if the filmmakers weren’t that concerned with coming up with a coherent plot and that’s because they weren’t.  The entire film has a make-it-up-as-you-along feel to it.  That makes the plot impossible to follow but it also leads to a few moments that are so over-the-top and weird that you can’t help but kind of love then.  At one point, Jeff Speakman steals a bus and uses it for a high-speed chase.  A little later, he ends up getting into multiple fights on a luxury yacht.  I’m not sure who he was fighting or why they were fighting but it really didn’t matter.  All that matters is that most of the fights were well-choreographed and the action was quick-paced and didn’t have too many slow spots.  Jeff Speakman was a professional martial artist.  Judging by this film, he couldn’t act worth a damn but he could throw a convincing punch and he looked good hitting people.  It’s best not to demand too much from a film like this.  After all, Running Red never said it was going to be anything other than a silly action movie.

That said, I’m a bit disappointed that Katherine didn’t get to do more because, as played by Angie Everhart, she had the potential to be an interesting character and, like me, she was lucky enough to be one of the 2% of the population that has naturally red hair.  That said, Running Red is both frequently dumb and often entertaining.  It delivers what the majority of viewers will be watching it for (i.e., mindless action) and there’s something to be said for a film that is at peace with what it is.

On a personal note (and yes, I’m aware that it’s kind of silly for me to say that when all of my reviews are, more or less, personal notes), I watched Running Red on YouTube as a part of this week’s #MondayActionMovie live tweet.  The version that I saw featured French opening credits and the first few minutes of dialogue were also in French before abruptly switching over to English.  I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when everyone suddenly started speaking English.  I was looking forward to tweeting along in French!  Oh well!

One response to “Film Review: Running Red (dir by Jerry P. Jacobs)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 8/8/22 — 8/14/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

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