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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Uncle Tom's cranny meets Deputy Von's sidearm

River Runs Red (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

We get a gander of bridges and cloverleafs segregating traffic into and out of the cityscape of Louisville, Kentucky. In a museum's black history display, the signs read, America is a Police State and Opinions Change. An Africa-American man Charles Coleman (Taye Diggs) judiciously answers his boy CJ (Joseph Belk)'s question, “Daddy, are black people better than white people?” Yes, it seems that way, but one can find good and bad in any people.

They move on to the display of Muhammad Ali who characterized his fighting style as, “I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” CJ practices punching a display bag, mock sparring with his dad, and arm wrestling with him on the floor. He's developing a good reach.

Forward to present day. CJ (now 23) drops in on his folks at their spacious country home. He uses his long reach to raid their fridge, then embraces his Chinese-American mom Eve (Jennifer Tao), and arm wrestles his dad. Mom heads out to her job as a medic, dad drives off to his job as the city's only black judge ever, and CJ drives off in his father's Beamer (“To the victor belong the spoils”) to his first day at the police academy. He is driving an unfamiliar car on an unfamiliar route. His mother is so proud she distracts him with a phone call.

pool partyMeanwhile, white, Jefferson County Sheriff deputies Von (Luke Hemsworth) and Rory (Gianni Capaldi) are taking a break in a ghetto park. While Rory is smoking a Cuban cigar Von is rough­housing with some clutching ghetto kids who are trying to get him to fumble a foot­ball. At least they aren't reaching for his weapon.

When the paths of the cadet and the cops cross, CJ full of self confidence flashes a victory sign at the county's finest. With his dark-skinned hand inside the darkened interior of the car, he gets mistaken for a nigger in a Beamer giving them the finger (“He flipped me off!”) They use it as an excuse to “light him up”—or perhaps it is illegal to flip off an officer in this police state; that's not made clear. Once confronted CJ engages the cops in an intellectual discussion about the legalities of police stops, just as he was used to doing with his dad. But the cops don't know he's a judge's son. They want to see his driver's license, not hear his lip.

Now, is long-reach CJ going to dive his hand down into his bag to retrieve his black wallet that could emerge looking like any­thing, or is he going to clutch the bag to him­self and dump out its contents on the seat where the cops can see what he's reaching for? Far be it from me to give away critical plot elements, so I'll just say that Ali's frame floating like a butter­fly was purposely difficult to track, and his bee sting was not some­thing the cops wanted to feel either. At any rate Eve's desire to see her son during the first day of his new career was granted when the call came for the ambulance.

Appalachia is notorious for its blood feuds, and Judge Coleman manages to find another hombre Javier (George Lopez) who'd lost his son to the same zealous cops. Their man­hood is at stake with what they do about it.


We are treated to one flashback scene of Coleman in a law school class when the teacher Miss Maxwell calls on him to summarize United States versus Johnson. Coleman temporizes saying he hadn't got that far yet. As it's the first case in the assignment, that excuse doesn't fly. Since we're on the theme of black history, and since my reviews relate the movie to the Bible, we might as well be smart enough to look at the first case in holy writ concerning blacks.

Writer Bodie Hodge (134) quotes “Bible Questions and Answers,” from The Golden Age (July 24, 1929): p. 702.

Question: Is there anything in the Bible that reveals the origin of the Negro?

Answer: It is generally believed that the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the Black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren,” he pictured the future of the Colored race.

That refers to a critical incident in the Bible where, Gen. 9:20-22, Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him uncovered in his tent. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him, which Noah sniffed out upon awakening, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. The blessing of Shem was shared by Japheth who was to dwell in the tents of Shem, i.e. integrated.

From Shem come the Semites, of course. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Generally, from the Middle East in the land of Shinar (modern-day Iraq, where Babel was), Japheth's descendants went north toward Europe and Asia, Ham's went toward Africa, and Shem's remained in the Middle East” (183). The servitude of Ham as passing to his youngest son Canaan also encompassed his son Cush, see Gen. 10:6. Cush is Hebrew for black, whose descendants settled in Africa.

We also see in flashback Judge Coleman passing sentence on a black man Mr. Jackson who is promising to behave and asking for leniency. His improvement and his candor are noted by the judge. Never­the­less, because the sentencing guide­line calls for ten years, he cannot let him off with probation. Figuring the brother is ripe for redemption, he gives him a spell of house arrest and then some probation.

Lincoln's faceIf we figure the movie judge to be setting some kind of just standard, then we cannot accede to the Negro's request for equal opportunity, despite his (supposed) improvement and his candor (protest.) Noah's sentence on the sons of Ham was too far reaching for that. Canaan the youngest son of Ham is carrying the curse on the whole family by a figure of speech called a synecdoche where a part stands for the whole. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.” By this movie's standard we can directly apply President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Procla­mation, who to the newly liberated had “recommend[ed] … that, in all cases when allowed they labor faith­fully for reason­able wages.” CJ at age nine had wanted to be a garbage man to keep the streets clean. Had he accepted that calling he would not have been displacing a white cadet, he could have cheerily waved at the police from the cab of his truck with­out encountering any grief, and he'd be keeping the streets clean for his mom's ambulance to drive on. Lincoln went on to, “hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence unless necessary self-defense.” CJ's dad the judge would have had no reason to resort to violence if his son had become a garbage man.

Production Values

” (2018) came from novice, black writer and director Wes Miller. It stars Taye Diggs, John Cusack, and George Lopez. The acting was marginal except for Cusack, Hems­worth, and the teacher, who for their part did well.

It's Not Rated, but FYI the f-word gets quietly used, there's no hint of sex, no nudity, but there is wall to wall violence, complex thematic material, and an attempt at negrophilic propaganda. It is a B movie with C production and a class A car chase.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is one twisted picture that can stand to be abandoned. If you see it with a multi-generational group, be advised: its message can be taken different ways by different generations with different values. A healthy marriage in the fore­front would make it a good date movie, regardless. It is the antithesis of a feel-good movie.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action. Suitability for children: Not rated. Special effects: Well done car chase special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful sections. Overall movie rating: Two stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Translated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.