‘Ida Red’ Ending Explained: Why Is Ida in Jail?

Ida Red Ending

Welcome to the Ending Explained for Ida Red, a film written and directed by John Swab. Ida Red stars a cast of recognizable names like John Harnett, Melissa Leo, Frank Grillo, Deborah Ann Woll, Mark Boone Junior, and Sofia Hublitz. The film tells a story of the legacy and the reputation of violence within society. Swab has made a career of making movies that can only be described as rough, where life is cheap, and all characters fall into the unlikable category, making it very hard to connect with most of the characters and the story that the movie is trying to tell.

Swab seems to be channeling certain real-life events in this one, and his exploration of legacy and how this affects our lives, is quite interesting, maybe the most interesting element in the movie. However, the action and the violence feel cheap because there are many deaths in the movie, but none of them amount to anything. The movie’s title is also a mystery as the character of Ida, while essential to the story and the subject the movie is trying to explore, is actually a very small part of the movie, so naming the movie after her feels confusing.


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The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Ida Red. Read at your own risk.

Who Are The Walker Family?

Ida Red is a film about family. It introduces us to the Walker family and its member. All of them have one thing in common: they are rebels and are always in the process of getting into trouble. First, we meet Dallas and Wyatt, both of them brothers, and both of them criminals and thieves.

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We see them stealing pills from a truck and sadly killing the driver and one guard in the process. It is all very messy. You would think these guys would be more professional, but they are not. These events will sign the end of their family as we know it.

Wyatt is charming, he has an auto shop, but it is all a front. Meanwhile, Dallas is a lot more brutal and ready to kill at any moment. Swap is surely nodding at Tombstone and the legend of Wyatt Herp with these two characters.

He is flipping them from lawmen to criminals. The nod is appreciated, but it is hard to say if the reference works on another level. However, it does seem to foreshadow the fate of both in some fashion. The pair has a sister, Jeanie, who has a teenage daughter, Darla. The last member of the family is Ida Red herself. But she is in jail.

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We are told by Wyatt, who was explaining their family history to Darla at the moment, that their father came from a war and was received only with poverty and disrespect from the people around them.

And so, to feed his family, he has to look for other sources of income. Wyatt explains that they steal and commit crimes because it is in their blood. And it certainly is. Jeanie seems to be the only family member who wants to live a normal life. Even her daughter, Darla, is becoming increasingly reckless each day.

We also learn that the truck they stole at the film’s beginning was a government vehicle. This makes the case federal, and so the FBI arrives in town. The Walker brothers have never faced such a dangerous enemy, and they will discover they are not up to the task.

This investigation will be their doom. They continue to commit crimes throughout the movie, and each one brings them one step closer to the hands of the law. Although. It is quite strange because everyone knows they are the guilty parties of several crimes, but the police cannot arrest them for some reason.

Why Is Ida In Jail?

The movie seems to divide its focus into two fronts. One is where we focus on the Walker brothers and how they deal with Ida in jail. And another one is where we see Darla trying to find her place in the family.

It is all very interesting, but the movie’s structure is flawed. The revelations come without impact, and the character development just flies by. We are told characters change, but we don’t see it. It is as disappointing as the weird moviemaker transitions used throughout the movie between scenes.

We are told that Ida became the family’s leader, both in the familiar and criminal sense. This is the reason she is in jail. Ida also taught her kids to be criminals just like her, and she ended up pushing Jeanie away in the process. It makes sense when you see that Jeanie would get married to a cop.

She looked for the exact opposite of what her own family was. Ida is sick, and the brothers want her out of jail before she dies. They don’t believe her mother should spend her last days in a cage.

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Darla, on the other hand, has the most interesting journey. She is still a teenager, she is still forming her view of the world. So, unlike her uncles or her mother, she is still trying to figure things out.

Will she follow the path of law, or will she descend into crime? She certainly has the attitude of a future criminal, and when she finally meets Ida in jail, she sees that Ida is her real mother, and the people she thought were her uncles and mother are actually her brothers. It is a big revelation, but the movie doesn’t know how to make it hit. It would have been much better if Darla had been the movie’s protagonist.


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The brothers’ conflict with her mother in jail makes up most of the movie, but it feels a bit scattered. So, when Ida is finally out of jail, it feels mostly like a cop-out. There is a huge scene with both brothers getting involved in a shooting that feels straight out of HEAT, but the shooting feels quite uneventful.

Wyatt manages to escape, while Dallas dies in the shooting. Wyatt gets to drive with his mother before she passes away in the passenger seat. We jump two years in time and see Darla visiting the tombs of her father, mother, and brother.

We learn that Darla has decided to go to college and be a normal person, away from a life of crime. This change in her persona feels like it is coming out of nowhere. The film ends with Darla visiting her brother, Wyatt, in jail and bonding because family is family, even when they are on the other side of the law.