“Red Riding: 1983” is the third, and final film in the stunning English crime trilogy “Red Riding”. Though it fails to capture the same raw and powerful feeling of the first two films, it is still a great ending to the trilogy.
Mark Addy plays John Piggott, a defense lawyer who is, more or less, retired and out of the game. At the behest of the mother of convicted “guilty” serial killer Michael Myshkin (Daniel Mays) Piggott has a discussion with Myshkin about his possible innocence in the case at hand. To this point Myshkin has been in prison for about eight years, but is just now beginning to say he’s innocent. During the discussion Myshkin confesses to Piggott he, in fact, is innocent, and his admission to the crimes to police years earlier was forced rather than voluntary.
Just as the heroes of the previous two films, Piggott pursues the truth, and inevitably gets in over his head. Where the heroes of the first two films are ultimately alone in their struggle, Piggott is not…most of the time. Also pursuing the truth is a guilt ridden police officer Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey) who has pivotal roles in the first two films. Through Piggott’s investigation we learn the deception, treachery, and corruption from the first two stories goes even deeper still than previously thought.
This installment of the series is quite a bit sadder than its predecessors. There are several scenes in this film with the falsely accused, borderline mentally handicapped Myshkin that are just awful (in a sad emotional way) – they’re almost unwatchable. We’ve got this poor guy who has almost no idea why he’s in jail begging to be set free, or at the very least for the truth to come out. He’s not a guy who wants revenge for false imprisonment he just wants the truth revealed. In my opinion it’s for this reason the scenes are so sad. If he was a raving lunatic who just wanted everyone who hurt him dead I wouldn’t be able to identify with the guy. But as it is, he’s just a cat with a big heart who got screwed, and I was pulling for him the whole way.
While this film is very good, and does a wonderful job of pulling on the heartstrings, it lacks a lot of the tension, action, and suspense the first two films captured so well. Simply because this is a trilogy I would have enjoyed seeing that common thread weave its way throughout, alas I was let down in that department. Though the film is enjoyable, it was in danger of getting a much lower rating from me because of the “problems” I mentioned. Thankfully, this film is saved almost entirely by the ending. It ends in such a great way: every loose end is tied off very well. We’re not left wondering about anyone. Anyone can end a film, but what happened here is everything was explained, and explained well so much so that I didn’t feel the least bit confused. For me, every now and then a film will end with a really stupid explanation, and it drives me insane every time. Here though, I was more than satisfied.