Kevin Smith as a director tends to be very much of the marmite variety. His “Jay and Silent Bob” series of movies tend to comprise a certain type of humour that I find funny but can understand why others don’t. What’s interesting about “Red State” is that if no one told you that it was a Kevin Smith film, you’d probably never know, because it’s such a different style from what he’s done before.
Firstly, it’s not a slacker comedy but the story of three teenagers who get caught up with a fundamentalist christian church led by the charismatic Abin Cooper, and a raid on the church by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Smith tells the story well, keeping it dramatic and fast moving and the action sequences really are excellent. In fact, watching it, I couldn’t help thinking that if anything Smith has been constrained by his reputation as a writer/director of suburban mall comedies.
The cast is excellent, with Michael Parks really chewing up the scenery as the pastor, and the always watchable John Goodman as the lead BATF agent. Goodman is one of those actors whom whenever you see in a decent role you always wonder why he’s not playing a meaty character in an HBO series.
My one criticism of the movie, and this is more to do with my personal taste than any failing of the movie, is the utter cynicism displayed by Goodman’s BATF superiors during the movie. It just did not ring true for me.