When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last-ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants.When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last-ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants.When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last-ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants.
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 ticked 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 humour and delicious action sequences. This is old fashion 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-Louis Parker from TV's Weeds. There is a joke in RED which I am not sure was intentioned, 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 RED's 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 glamour. While venturing through my theatres 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.
- Oct 15, 2010