For the most part I endorse Phil Nugent's take, although his typing can be as murky as a Yorkshire mutter. But he doesn't spoil Red Riding's biggest surprise, the same biggest surprise I got from L.A. Confidential: how hokey it is compared to its film school role models.
The 1970s weren't known for big-eyed innocence about human depravity; sometimes a guy might even be braced for the thought that a woman who fell into bed with him could fall into bed with other people. I rarely switch on a garbage disposal without memories of Rolling Thunder, and I never saw a vigilante-vengeance movie reach this level of corn: A bumbling horndog whose chief talent is sideburns gets tortured for days and tumbled onto the highway from a moving car, then without so much as a training montage walks into a bar of ruthless armed paranoids, pulls out a big honkin' gun, cleanly assassinates every oh-so-worthy target, and walks out proud while the survivors cower.
At first I assumed this was a set-up, like the perfect murders of Unfaithfully Yours. But no, afterwards the movie doesn't get funnier intentionally. Instead, it sweetens the ever-reliable apotheosis of Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry by adding Paula the Sexpot Ghost:
Every time a car crashes, an angel gets it on
Forget Don Siegel, this is Frank fuckin' Capra.
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