I went into this movie with no expectations other than feeling reasonably sure that Alex Karpovsky’s creation would entertain, and give me something to get my teeth into. While I’m still unsure as to how I feel about this independent effort, starring writer director Karpovsky, I couldn’t bring myself to empathise, or share in any of Alex’s sorrows. In fact, what I did feel was quite the opposite. This low budget road trip movie was acted out brilliantly but the material they were acting ‘from’ was an entirely different matter. It was clearly a personal film that we were bearing witness to, and while it can be an intimate thing, no matter if it’s comedic or dramatic, I felt as if I were peeking in at the wrong time and missing all the good parts. The acting was so good in fact there were times when I thought I was watching improvisation, but the writing didn’t allow for any real enjoyment, and those moments were too few and far between anyway.
Movies of every genre are made all the time, so we can’t help but start to compare one film with another, especially if you have characters that look similar to other movie characters. Red Flag reminds me so much of Due Date it was actually distracting. It’s not so much the writing as the fact that Oner Tukel looks, talks and acts very like Zach Galifianakis, who starred alongside Robert Downey Jr in Due Date, which is also a ‘road trip’ comedy, but that at least succeeded in being funny. Red Flag however is not funny. Alex Karpovsky has put a lot of himself in this film, and while I do like that he put this together rather well, it needed someone with far more experience to make proper sense of the script and offer alternatives to the misfires that plagued the movie. I could clearly see the gags I was supposed to find funny, fall flat, but I have a good sense of humour which sadly felt neglected for most of the film.
There were some interesting situations where I thought the movie would turn itself around and redemption would be forthright but the punchline never materialised and the carefully set up comedy scenes were for nought as time after time I was let down. I chuckled once or twice in the first seventy minutes and then at the end there were four minutes of decent laughs and drama, but that was way too small a payoff, and way too late. Watching Alex Karpovsky project his narcissism onto film just wasn’t my idea of entertainment because I didn’t feel he had a decent tale to tell and while he has shown he can put a film together, he should leave the writing to people who are better at it than himself. Not one of the better independent films I’ve seen of late, but Karpovsky has a fan base that should find it pleasing where I didn’t.
Review by E. Blackadder, special to Influx Magazine