RED Directed by: Robert Schwentke Cast: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: October 15, 2010
PLOT: A recently retired black ops agent (Willis) accidentally ropes in his hopeful girlfriend (Parker) and now he must reunite with other retirees to uncover a plot involving the CIA.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's pretty easy to sit through but if you're a die hard (pun intended) fan of Willis, something will feel off with this film.
EXPECTATIONS: I knew it was a comic and the "joke" is that these black ops agents are the best of the best, but over the hill.
Bruce Willis as Frank Moses: He's half the problem with this action film and I'm a Willis fan. When you cast Willis, you're still getting THE Bruce Willis. He's still an action star. Surrogates was a year ago and Live Free and Die Hard was three. Trying to convince us he's over the hill simply seems wrong. We don't see Willis as old yet because Hollywood has convinced us otherwise and he's aged better than other 80s action stars (Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal). Frank is an oldie, but still a goodie. Someone else who is actually older would have served the movie much better. Being surprised that Frank can still get it done should be half the fun of this film. By the way, RED means Retired Extremely Dangerous. Score: 6
Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah Ross: Sure, I get that a woman trapped in a cubicle wants adventure, but it seems Sarah goes along for the ride a little too easy. With this cast, something seems weird about her getting much more screen time than Freeman, Mirren and Malkovich. Plus, how is this character helpful to the story? She's an outsider who should help bring us in to this world so we can understand it better. She doesn't serve that purpose, and therefore just gets in the way. Score: 4
John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs: Just like in Secretariat his mere presence ramps up the crazy. Beyond that, there's not much more to Marvin. He gets some laughs as the crazy guy who joins up with Frank to solve why the CIA are hunting everyone down. Score: 6
Rest of Cast: Morgan Freeman is Joe, our old man and former agent who is actually in a retirement home. The joke is that he's hard to kill. Then it doesn't turn out to be that funny. Helen Mirren is the older saucy minx Victoria. She gets some girl time with Sarah, but it's so short and there's so little character development it seems like Mirren is overlooked. Richard Dreyfuss is Alexander Dunning. He's hamming it up as a corrupt businessman. It's painfully bad. Do we know if Dreyfuss can officially still act? The one guy I wanted more of is Karl Urban as Agent Cooper. He was great as Bones in Star Trek and here he does a pretty good impression of Agent Smith from The Matrix. Score: 6
TALKING: You can still be hip and make old age jokes. RED just never finds the right rhythm. It thinks it's much cooler and funnier than it actually comes off. Plus, there was nothing really creative about the plot once it is revealed who the main bad guy is that the group is going after. Score: 5
SIGHTS: I'm going to sound like I am harping. Couldn't some simple jokes about someone pulling their back out or something have been added? Postcards take us from one city to the next, which helps feel like we're constantly being whisked away. When the movie does do action, they do a pretty good job. For an example check out the 'Best Scene' below. Score: 6
SOUNDS: I can't remember any songs except whatever basic music each city they visited in known for (Kansas City, New Orleans). The guns, explosions and punches sounded exactly as you would expect. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: Bruce Willis gets out of a car. Well, there is more to it. The car is twisting around and somehow Frank simply steps out of the car and then he's firing a ton of bullets into Agent Cooper's car. It's a great action moment in an OK movie.
ENDING: It's seriously annoying that one of them died. Especially when you clearly set up everyone as a fun group who now wants to become an older "A-Team."
QUESTIONS: Why kill one of them? It's not a serious film, and doing that takes away any fun and doesn't add any real sadness. Also, if a CIA agent wants to immediately join the Secret Service on an assignment, all he has to do is ask? Really?
REWATCHABILITY: I wouldn't kick it off the TV, but I won't ever purposely make time for RED again.
There are two problems with RED: The lead role is miscast and the movie is never as cool as it thinks it is. Bruce Willis is an action star. He doesn't have one foot in a bullet-ridden grave. So him playing Frank just isn't that fun. I kept thinking of one actor in this role that would have been gang-busters ... Gene Hackman. I want to see that movie. Or heck, give the lead to Morgan Freeman. These are guys who aren't given the chance to shoot up a town and win the girl anymore. The plot is very forgettable and when the White House comes into play, I start to tune out. The action sequences are good, and some will be happy enough to see Mirren behind a huge machine gun (don't get me wrong, it's fun). But the movie seems to lack creativity and when they aren't shooting guns, you're bored. Getting this old gang back together again sounds like a great idea. It's just not the right application.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10