Saturday, November 13, 2010

You won't see red in Red

RED: Retired - Extremely Dangerous, a designation used by the Central Intelligence Agency to brand some of their former operatives now receiving their pension. As Meet The Parents thought us, no one really retires 100% from the CIA. Retired operatives more often than not, stockpile weapons, specialist equipment and hoard files to use in “off the books” missions or as “insurance” should their past catch up with them, just like what happens to our protagonists in this fun action-comedy. Bruce Willis plays one such CIA retiree Frank Moses. Yeah, probably a bit too young to play a retiree but as he was a formidable black ops field agent and probably shunned the notion of a desk at Langley or there were probably a few extenuating circumstances which warranted his early retirement. Frank spends his days reading spy novels as they are enjoyed by his pension account representative Sarah [Mary-Louise Parker] whom he likes to talk to on the phone [albeit not about his accounts]. When a South African hit squad destroys his home and fails to kill him, Frank flees to Kansas City to protect Sarah by kidnapping her as their phone activity has put her life at risk as well.

Frank’s fun filled journey brings him into conflict with CIA “problem solver” Agent Cooper [the excellent as always Karl Urban] and also comes into contact with fellow CIA retirees, Joe [Morgan Freeman], Marvin [John Malkovich] and Victoria [Helen Mirren], a cast that would probably draw anyone to a movie. But add to those - Richard Dreyfuss, Julian McMahon and even Brian Cox as a former KGB officer with a cameo from 93 year old Ernest Borgnine and you know you have something special. As the whole thing is fairly loose with plot, it’s really up to this suitably impressive cast to make the movie entertaining, and they were well up to the task. Their interaction is flawless especially compared with say The A-Team and The Losers, two movies which have shared a somewhat similar theme this year [elite team betrayed and on the run from government for something they didn’t do] and I think the star studded cast makes this ever so slightly superior to both of them.

German director Robert Schwentke took on a far more ambitious project with Red than the crap he's previously directed such as The Time Traveller's Wife and Flightplan. It's not as violent as it's Warren Ellis comic-book source materiel and has been humoured-up for Hollywood, something that probably doesn't sit well with the fanboys but the movie isn't just for them and it works for me and at the end of the day, it's really only my opinion that matters. Ellis himself remarked that while it was "not the book, but not bad. Funny. Especially when you know the casting. Very tight piece of work."

Final Verdict: A hilarious at times, good natured spy-genre action movie. While not to visceral, action fans won't be disappointed by the amount of automatic weapons fire and seeing Helen Mirren with a heavy machine gun and a sniper rifle, sublime.

Colonel Creedon Rating: *****

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