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Simon’s Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.5/10
(2 reviews total)
You’re wrinkly, have health issues and your age is higher than the caliber of your gun. So what’s a senior to do? Why, get a bigger gun of course. That is certainly one of many philosophies in the action comedy RED (That would be Retired Extremely Dangerous for those still living in fear of Communism. Hey, it is the right age bracket) which collects a who’s who of Oscar-grade talent and has them blow shit up real good. This is but the fourth men-on-a-mission film so far this year after The Expendables, The A-Team and The Losers, heck even Inception could fall into that group. The good news is with the exception of the latter it is the best of the bunch and by far the most fun you’re bound to have this fall season.
Now onto the CIA. I don’t know what they’re dipping their dirty little fingers into Stateside, but in addition to being at the center of some pissed off senior’s attention in RED, they have been the villains in aforementioned The Losers and The A-Team as well as Salt and Knight & Day. Talk about your need for homeland security, they had better keep one of those high-tech satellites over Hollywood. At the receiving end of the Central Intelligence Agency’s scope are a band of former operatives including the “kid” of the group, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), the ailing Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), the brain-fried eccentric, Marvin Boggs (John Malcovich) and the sultry heartbreaker, Victoria (Helen Mirren). Brian Cox also shows up as a Ruskie who may or may not have been previously shot by one of the former. Though not having seen action in a good decade, they have been deemed “RED” by an unknown force, which means curtains for this rag-tag bunch of geriatrics.
The cast truly is great in RED, and I don’t simply mean the actors in general; they simply all give full-on great, funny performances. The subtle (but hilarious) underlying lament of these characters is they all reminisce over their past lives as hardened assassins and pine just to kill one more little ol’ person. More at the forefront of course is the bang-on wry humor and delicious action sequences. This is old-fashioned stunt work at play here (fittingly perhaps) and I’ll take it over a green screen any day. These bursts of adrenaline are dumb to be sure, but not totally ludicrous: think of a cross between Die Hard and Enemy of the State. What they are not is anything short of exciting and kinetic and are interspersed with laughs in such a way as to not drift to one focus too long. RED also gleefully embraces its comic book origins, using playful transitions as the globe-trotting commences. Yet again, director Robert Schwentke never revels in one gimmick for too long and the film goes down smooth and easy as a result.
The younger cast is more than worth mentioning as well, with the highest accolades going to Mary-Louise Parker from TV’s Weeds. There is a joke in RED which I am not sure was intended, when after being injected with a knockout-drug, Parker’s Sarah exclaims “I’m so high.” She steals most scenes when given the chance but her character (a love interest of Frank who unintentionally gets caught up in the fracas) is utilized far more towards the beginning of the film. Karl Urban is also solid as a CIA operative tasked in finding the REDs but becomes suspicious at his orders which grow increasingly corrupt. I always wonder in the movie world how they would explain attack helicopters shredding an airport to the general public. The government must have some amazing PR agents on staff. Richard Dreyfus (in his second cameo of the year after Piranha) is also well used as an oily arms dealer who comes across the team’s path.
Summit Entertainment is pulling out all the marketing stops for this film, and I am happy to report the results seem to be worth the glamor. While venturing through my theater’s ticket checkpoint they stamped my stub “confidential” instead of ripping it, and a squad of agents clad in sunglasses and suits patrolled the lobby. The showing seemed to be a generous mix of old and new patrons and that really comes as no surprise. Even though the majority of the cast has long breached 60, these are actors generations of all ages still admire. Even if they are not the draws they once were (some of them never were) this is a great example of people showing up to see actors, performers, and not special effects. RED may be imperfect, it may not even be particularly fresh, but it exudes something movies lack far too often: fun.
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Written by: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malcovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Steven thought: “The only chance RED had at standing out from all the other team-oriented action flicks this year was to rise above the formula at the hands of an acting core whose mean age would qualify for a senior discount to see said film. In honesty, it doesn’t succeed at being more special, but what “RED” achieves that many of its kin this year did not is pull it off with a definitive sense of class. Although hardly as hysterical as it ought to have been, RED combines likable faces and smart direction well enough so that the recycled premise doesn’t nag at you for too long. The group is more lovable than humorously playing against type — though Mirren with a machine gun is refreshing. RED proves there’s great comfort in a familiar face, especially seasoned veterans. We enjoy seeing them have fun with less sophisticated roles, even if their performances don’t rate with the anticipation of them crossing a genre line. Without a doubt, however, it makes today’s most used and abused Hollywood action formula much more tolerable.” Rating: 7/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.5/10