Red State (2011)

Kevin Smith makes an abrupt departure from his usual fare in the hyper-violent Red State (2011). A film that skewers both fringe religious zealots and the government agencies tasked with monitoring them, Red State is an effective commentary on the nature of how religion has been co-opted by a select few to champion hatred and violence against others.

Smith's steady hand in direction keeps the pace moving here. His writing is vulgar (I had to turn it off after my daughter asked what the main characters were saying), but so authentic. I loved the interaction between the boys as they negotiated their rendezvous, and was shocked and very saddened when their fates grew clearer.

In just a short time I grew an affinity for them, and that's the mark of a good writer.

Michael Park is spellbinding as the hateful Abin Cooper (that opening monologue is priceless!). He preaches fire and brimstone sermons inside his compound (there are a number of references to the botched ATF siege of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco), where a small congregation of family members listen in starry eyed wonder. 

They stockpile weapons and murder folks whose lifestyles they disapprove of.

John Goodman plays special agent Joe Keenan. It's his job to neutralize the Cooper family, and when things spin out of control, he's left holding the bag. Goodman does a nice job here, and in the third act we get an interesting glimpse into what life might be like behind the scenes in some of these government agencies. 

I won't give too much away, but the rapture sequence was a really nice, surreal touch. Overall, I enjoyed the film. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely worth a look (B+)...  

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