(Planet Me)
Saturday, October 08, 2011

"Red State" is Kevin Smith's tenth film. Not that you would know it looking at the hodge podge, genre mishmash on screen. It starts off Hostel, goes all crazy Fire-And-Brimstone bonkers gorno, then takes a massive left turn into some kind of bizarre ultraviolent, grindhouse style urban western. Oh, and then, finally, something awesome happens, that - two minutes later - stops happening and makes the whole film a dreary, and boring anticlimax.

There isn't honestly enough space in the world to describe exactly what is wrong with this film.Where to start? The setting is cliched and boring. The plot is dull and predictable. Almost all the main characters are assholes with few redeeming features, if any. Only John Goodman, and a small role by Kevin Pollack show any promise. Aside from one, unnamed character, who has no dialogue, and whose sole purpose is to die gruesomely, I'm rooting for everyone else to die in this film. I get my wishes granted.

Every moment of this film screams to me that the script is first draft and the cut is not a final edit. Scenes drag on too long, or not long enough : dialogue is blunt, and characters are often hollow ciphers that exist to forward the plot, as well as outlandishly drawn. Events occur in a string of improbable coincidences. Now, most films contain an element of the overblown and unlikely, but the string of coincidences become far out of probability : who thought these events would happen at those precise moments, and not just once or twice, but six or seven times. It quickly descends to bullshit. If anything, this film undoes the rest of Smiths reputation : it looks like a not-very-accomplished debut from a mediocre film-maker, that far outstays its welcome, with extraenous scenes - especially an extra couple of scenes at the end that add nothing but running time to this slender films baffling existence.

Not only that, but the trick of being a great film-maker is show don't tell : here Smith spunks his gift with great reams of exposition and useless chat. It's boring. About the only good role in it is the main "bad guy", who commands the screen but exposits again and again and again the same old stuff - oh! You got me monologuing! - though John Goodman holds up well ; and the violence is expertly edited, albeit boring. This film is too long, a one-note riffola that is unengaging intellectually, populated with unsympathetic cardboard characters, poorly edited, narratively unsatisfying, and utterly tedious.

I haven't seen a film this dull at the cinema since Battlefield Earth. Red State? Comatose State would be a better name for this waste of celluloid.

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