Not Rated Dir: Wes Miller | Cinedigm | 1h 34min
Plot: What’s it about?
River Runs Red involves a sadly all too familiar topic today. That of an unarmed black man getting gunned down by the police. This has been the subject of a few recent films, most notably the hate U give. Unfortunately, the film simply uses that as a tool for an otherwise mediocre and routine film that really has very little to say. It’s a pretty boring film that only occasionally comes to life, but you’ll be hard-pressed to care at all. It’s not that the film doesn’t have its heart in the right place, it’s the execution that leaves a lot to be desired. There isn’t a sense of urgency that one might expect from a premise of this sort.
Taye Diggs plays Charles Coleman. Charles attends law school and eventually becomes a judge. We see an early scene of him telling his son CJ that there are both, good and bad white and black people. Basically that anyone is capable of being good or doing wrong, regardless of their race. The film flashes forward several years where CJ (Joseph Belk) decides to get into law enforcement and attends the police academy. CJ is driving one night when he’s pulled over by two corrupt police officers. Eventually, CJ is shot dead by these two and we then follow Charles and his quest for revenge against his son’s killers. John Cusack gets a supporting role here as Horace, a friend of Charles who is a policeman. There’s also a mechanic named Javier (George Lopez) who is also a grieving father. Charles and Javier eventually team up to get their revenge.
The premise does have a little bit of promise, but there are too many eyeball rolling moments and melodrama that lessen the film and its potential impact. We do get some action sequences, but they’re so unintentionally comical and poorly staged that they lose their effect. It doesn’t help that the film just has a dull undertone. It lacks the energy and emotional impact to really make us care to take this journey with these two characters. We get a premise ripped from the headlines that unfortunately does little with it. The ingredients are there, but the film sits in neutral much of the time.
Video: How’s it look?
This 4K combo pack also includes a Blu-Ray disc that’s impressive, but it’s clear the 4K has more to offer as the experience has stronger visuals and more depth overall. I do think sometimes the 4K transfer looks a bit too good that it almost creates a CGI kind of look to the film. I’m sure most 4K viewers will have an idea what I mean. This is a very darkly lit film, so there are noticeable moments where grain is present. Details and background shots are nice and well rendered here. Overall, whether you watch the Blu-Ray or 4K disc, the image suits the film well.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track works well. The film has more talk that I anticipated, but the vocals are clear. The action scenes do kick things up a good bit and add to the track. There’s strong range and all the channels stay busy and active during the action moments.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.
The Bottom Line
Let me just say it: River Runs Red is a true stinker. The film takes an all too sad and familiar headline, but does nothing with it. It honestly just bored me and I couldn’t wait for it to end. There’s some talent involved here, but they all deserve better than this lousy film.