Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfus, Brian Cox, and James Remar.
Directed by: Robert Schwentke.
Released: October 15th, 2010.
It’s been a while since I had stopped watching a movie about halfway through it. I stopped watching Red around the seventy-five minute mark and this is approximately a two-hour movie. Now what does that tell you about Red? Well, I thought I’d give it a shot because Bruce Willis is in it along with a pretty good all-star cast. Live Free or Die Hard was rather below expectations, Surrogates and Cop Out were a couple steps in the right direction, but Red brings it right back down to the same level as Live Free or Die Hard, actually maybe a few levels below that.
Red (short for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous”) is based loosely on a three part DC comic book series of the same name by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. The film adaptation is an action-comedy film that revolves around Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired Black-Ops CIA Agent. For the opening duration of Red, we follow Moses in his little quiet retirement life as he attempts to strike up a romance over the phone with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service representative at the office that handles his pension.
This first bit is rather interesting to watch but then it all goes downhill when Moses’ home is interrupted by a squad of assassins who attempt to kill him. But McClaine uses his superhuman abilities to defeat them… wait, did I say McClaine? Anyway, Willis easily dispatches these guys like he’s from The Matrix films, with very little effort used. The action pretty much follows suit in that respect for the duration of the entire film. As a result, this leaves absolutely no room for suspense and tension. We now don’t care about these characters because we already know they’re too smart to be killed.
Even James Bond and Ethan Hunt were put through many nail-biting situations where they got their butts handed to them in the process of defeating the bad guys (much like John McClaine, who was not a spy or a CIA agent). Anyway, since Moses is a superhuman, he puts two and two together and figures Sarah may be in danger because the bad guys tapped his phone. So he kidnaps her and eventually gets her to side with him, the fact that she’s into adventurous romantic novels kind of helps too.
While in hiding, Moses along with Sarah seek out his other former CIA agent buddies – There’s Joe (Morgan Freeman) who spends his days in a nursing home and hits on the staff, Marvin (John Malkovich) is the paranoid conspiracy theory nut who lives out in the woods, then there’s Victoria (Helen Mirren) who lives a life similar to Moses. These characters are all presented very well by the cast, including additional secondary performances such as one by Richard Dreyfus. In short, Red has the appropriate spirit and tone for a good action-comedy but the action is all wrong as well as the fact that it’s impossible to care about these characters whose lives never really seem in danger.