Sunday, November 07, 2010


Year: 2010
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, Brian Cox, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss

Red is an action comedy based on the graphic novel of the same name. The title is an acronym for 'Retired, extremely dangerous'.

The story begins with Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired CIA agent who now leads a dull existence by himself in a suburban neighborhood. His only pastime is having phone conversations with Sarah (Mary Louise Parker), a pension handler at the CIA office whom Frank takes a liking to.

Then one night, six armed men come knocking on his door and try to kill him. Frank easily disposes of them and proceeds to find out who would want him dead. Knowing that Sarah's life is in danger too due to their connection, Frank kidnaps her and forces her to tag along. He meets up with his old CIA friends, Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), Victoria (Helen Mirren) and former Russian agent Ivan (Brian Cox) and together, they follow up one lead after another to find the mastermind while being pursued by CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban), who has orders to kill Frank.

Many movie reviewers have compared Red to The Expendables due to the similar storyline of ageing heroes going back in action. The difference is, Red doesn't take itself too seriously, which works well in its favour. Director Robert Schwentke keeps viewers interested by letting his A-list cast play their parts equally. The witty dialogue and banter between them helps lighten the proceedings when things threaten to slow down. The action sequences are also well executed. Willis is of course an old hand at stuff like this, so it's no surprise. What is fun to watch is Mirren wielding a machine gun or a sniper rifle taking out the bad guys. What is even more fun is watching Malkovich hamming it up as the slightly insane Marvin. He had me in stitches the whole time.

However, Freeman sadly doesn't have much to do, though his screen presence is still there. Parker is a mere distraction at times and lacks chemistry with Willis. Urban plays it straight here and is probably the only character that has no funny line to read. The legendary Ernest Borgnine makes a welcome cameo as the CIA records keeper.

So basically, other than Parker, the cast work well together and successfully make it look like they have been friends for years. I have to say it again: Malkovich is awesome. He's paranoid with a capital P, but he's smart, capable and hilarious here.

It's a good action film that manages to entertain despite not having The Expendables' level of budget. (3.5/5)

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