‘Red Dot’ Review: Swedish Thriller’s Aim is Slightly Off
By Daniel Rester
The Swedish film Red Dot is a small-scale survival thriller that’s something of a mix between The Revenant (2015) and Down Range (2017), though not nearly as good as The Revenant and only slightly better than Down Range. Director Alain Darborg captures some beautiful locations and tense situations at times, but his efforts are ultimately defeated by a mixed-bag script that contains frustrating story turns. Red Dot is yet another example of how dumb characters and unearned twists can sink a film.
David (Anastasios Soulis) and Nadja (Nanna Blondell) are a newly married couple. He’s a recent graduate who has the job of his dreams while she is studying to become a doctor. Nadja is also pregnant, but has yet to tell David.
After having some arguments, David and Nadja decide to try and rekindle their relationship by going hiking and camping. While on their vacation, they have a few bad run-ins with some rude and racist hunters. Not long after, the two of them are fighting for their lives after gunshots fly at their tent at night.
Blondell and Soulis are very good in their roles and have strong chemistry. They sell the fear of their situations well and put in a lot of physical effort. They have to do a lot of running and laying in snow as their characters are hunted by snipers. One scene involving a drill brings out both of their best acting.
The main problem is not Blondell and Soulis, but rather their characters Nadja and David. These characters start out annoying by bickering all the time (an early scene focuses on a broken clothes washer) and then become even more intolerable after making stupid decision after stupid decision. It’s easy to get behind smart characters trying to survive, but it’s equally as easy to root for idiotic characters’ downfalls.
These two have multiple chances to get away but instead go back to their tent for supplies. David triggers a bear trap because he isn’t paying attention. They run across an ice lake instead of going around. David suggests he understands gun reloading timing because he plays Battlefield. The list goes on.
As if the decision-making by the characters wasn’t bad enough, Per Dickson and Darborg’s screenplay also wants to provide some twists that don’t feel earned. Information is withheld in order to add more layers to David and Nadja’s characters later on. The way the info is revealed though feels forced instead of being subtly and naturally built up to. It’s less of a surprise and more just another reason to not like the characters.
There are great films with abhorrent central characters, but they have to be written expertly. David and Nadja have the potential to be interesting, but Red Dot makes them too unintelligent and leaves them in a blizzard of bad plot development. Blondell and Soulis deserved better writing to back up their committed performances.
At least the locations are magnificent.
My Grade: 5.8 (letter grade equivalent: C+)
Running Time: 1h 26min