Career criminal Ida “Red” Walker (Oscar winner Melissa Leo) is battling a terminal illness while serving a 25-year prison sentence in the outlaw state of Oklahoma. She has little time left to live. Under Ida’s tutelage, her son, Wyatt Walker (Josh Hartnett), has sustained the family business, alongside his uncle, Dallas Walker (Frank Grillo). When a job goes awry, local detective and Wyatt’s brother-in-law, Collier (George Carroll), is joined by FBI agent Lawrence Twilley (William Forsythe) to track down the responsible party.
Throughout his career, filmmaker John Swab has followed the old adage, “write what you know.” We’ve witnessed this throughout his burgeoning filmography, as immortalized in Swab’s gritty crime dramas LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR (Fantasia 2016), RUN WITH THE HUNTED, BODY BROKERS and now IDA RED, his neo-Western crime saga set in the American heartland where he grew up. Swab knows his characters, because he’s lived like his characters. From his youth as a 15-year-old Oklahoma runaway to terrible addictions to heroin and crack, Swab (six years clean) has turned his pain into an astonishing cinematic journey that enters a whole new playing field with IDA RED, a blistering crime drama centered on an American family like no other. Swab’s three-dimensional characters catapult off the screen with grit and intensity, and his superlative actors (including cast-against-type Josh Hartnett!) deliver career-best performances. With a propulsive final act that will have you sweating bullets – and gives Michael Mann’s HEAT a run for its (stolen) money – the unforgettable IDA RED crowns Swab as the Martin Scorsese of the Midwest. – Tony Timpone
Kin Long Chan
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