Written and directed by John Swab, this crime drama has a heavy focus on family and feels more like a family drama for most of the run time. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any action to be found. The film has an interesting balance of family drama and crime sequences, showing how a family can be deeply entrenched in a criminal lifestyle and how difficult it can be for them to come out of that. The film’s main strength here is the characters and how they are written for the screen. These people are a family and the connection is clearly deep, something many films of this ilk seem unable to get properly. This helps the film immensely as it’s clearly more about the family relations and connections than it is about the actual crime. Yes, they are criminals, but they are so much more.
Playing this family is a cast composed of basically all known and familiar faces including Melissa Leo as the titular characters. Her character is the center of the film, but not the one with the most screen time by far. Coming off as a lead from early on is Josh Hartnett as Wyatt Walker, one of Ida’s sons. Playing her other son Dallas is Frank Grillo and playing her daughter Jeanie is Deborah Ann Woll. Playing Jeanie’s daughter is Sofia Hublitz and player her husband is George Carroll. The rest of the cast is peppered with strong actors that most viewers will recognize from somewhere. This ensemble case is solid here with all of them giving strong, nuanced performances, bringing their characters to life in fantastic ways. The cast really sells this movie and makes it a strong ensemble piece.
Unfortunately, this film has no credit listed for cinematography on IMDB which is something pretty rare and rather odd. That being said, the person who did the cinematography gave the film a mood and atmosphere that is on point throughout the film, something that takes talent and knowledge to do. The images in Ida Red may not be sweeping vistas or Hollywood glam, but they are exactly what the film needs to make its points and to make an impact.
Ida Red is a good family drama with touches of action here and there, so it’s important to not go into it looking for an exciting action film. Going into the film looking for a character-driven family drama with a side of crime is the best way to approach this one and as such it is an excellent film.