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Review: RED STONE- Neil McDonough Sizzles as a Hitman with a Conscience in the Slow Burn Crime-Thriller

By: John M Jerva

I remember a few months back when I received the trailer and info for actor Neil McDonough’s upcoming action-thriller Boon as he is arguably one of my favorite actors working in the industry today. McDonough usually plays the heavy in film and TV with some of his best turns as antagonist coming in 2004’s remake Walking Tall starring The Rock as well as having a lengthy character arc on The CW’s DC series Arrow. McDonough just has that certain something when it comes to playing the bad guy and he has amassed a stellar career of over 117 credits in his filmography.

McDonough has played the heroic lead from time to time, and I bet a lot of you don’t remember his short-lived television series Medical Investigation which only ran for 20 episodes back in 2004. That was one of my favorites and McDonough was exceptional as the lead of an elite team of government medical investigators who specialized in public health emergencies. I was really pissed when that show was unceremoniously canceled by NBC, but I digress.

Now McDonough is back and he’s starring as a ruthless hitman with a conscience in the new thriller Boon which hits theaters and Digital this Friday. When I first saw the trailer, I was immediately drawn to it as it starred McDonough, but he was also playing an anti-hero. McDonough stars as the titular Boon who must protect a woman and her family from a ruthless crime lord played by Tommy Flanagan. The initial trailer looked sensational, and McDonough looks like he owns the role so I will definitely be checking this one out.

Low and behold, I just found out this week that Boon is actually the second film in this franchise as McDonough has also starred as this particular character in 2021′ crime-thriller Red Stone. How did I miss this one? Well, I’m not perfect but I immediately rectified that situation as I have viewed the first film in order to get ready for the second in a couple of days. I didn’t get a screener to Boon so I will be checking it out when it hits but, in the meantime, I’m going to talk about Red Stone to properly psyche everyone up for the latest entry dropping this weekend.

In 2021’s Red Stone, McDonough, of course, stars as ruthless assassin Boon who is tasked with eliminating young teen Motley (Dash Melrose) after he witnesses the murder of his older brother at the hands of a dangerous southern crime boss named Jed played by The Walking Dead’s Michael Cudlitz. Boon has his work cut out for him as the clock is ticking on him finding the boy before rival assassins and the FBI do. To make matters worse, Boon realizes that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this assignment, and it will question everything that he believes in.

Now it’s important to state that Red Stone is more of an immense slow-burn crime potboiler and not a straight up action flick. It runs 97 minutes long so it never overstays its welcome, but it is more character driven and those expecting wall to wall violence and shootings will be disappointed. It does make for a taut and tense 90 plus minutes though and even though it drags at certain parts, I was never not interested with what I was watching.

My fixation on the film definitely lies with the performance of Neil McDonough as his Boon is a complex character to say the least. Yes, he is a stalwart assassin, but he is also a man with faith who is mourning the loss of his family in the past. When his conscience starts to get the better of him, he decides to go against his Jed and protect the teen at all costs. It is a character arc we’ve seen multiple times in the past, but McDonough makes it his own per usual and even though the assassin with a heart of gold is a cliche as they come, I was still invested in Red Stone. and Boon’s character arc.

As Jed, Michael Cudlitz is especially intimidating but just like Boon, he has layers as well. He is a crime boss, but he is also a family man who loves his grandchild. Things get complicated as Jed is also close friends with Boon so you can see what’s coming when Boon decides to go rogue and protect Motley. This adds more to the proceedings, and it makes the scenes with both McDonough and Cudlitz weigh very heavily. You know things are going to go from bad to worse so it’s just the ride we take to get to the finish line.

There is action to behold in the film and like I said, it’s more dispersed but it is nicely peppered throughout with some expertly shot shootouts and sequences of violence. I like these types of films as the action isn’t just there for action’s sake, but it complements the story and punctuates the drama on hand. Just like The Contractor which I reviewed earlier this week; Red Stone isn’t going to win fans over who want to see bombastic set pieces. This is lower scale with brief instances of carnage that drive the narrative. The action comes because it has to.

Overall, Red Stone is more crime thriller than full blown action spectacle, the film won me over from the performances especially McDonough and Cudlitz and this is one film I might revisit again as Boon’s universe is something I want to see more of. The action is there for those waiting for payoff and it is punchy and violent. McDonough is spot on as the hitman who has more going for him, and I hope we get to see more of him in the future after Boon is released. Give this one a chance and even though it lags a little, it still is a ride worth taking. I, for one, cannot wait to see the second entry later this week. This is definitely a hidden gem that I was glad I found.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

VERDICT: 3 Out of 5 Stars

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED

Neil McDonough is Perfectly Cast in a Slow Burn Crime-Thriller Punctuated with Violent Tendencies

Check out the official trailer for Red Stone along with the teaser for Boon which is available on my official YouTube Channel!

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