I haven’t written one of these in a while, so I figured I was due. I made today an impromptu movie day, and I needed to see something that was fairly entertaining and a bit eclectic. Today’s movie choice was the Summit Entertainment release RED. The film stars Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, and Karl Urban. The movie is based on a limited edition graphic novel by DC Comics, and it’s directed by Robert Schwentke with a score by Christophe Beck. The previews for this movie really intrigued me; seeing these old people kick all sorts of ass in that trailer caused me to raise my eyebrow and wonder how good this movie would actually be. How did it turn out? Well…let’s find out.
The movie starts with retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) going through the motions of retired life: eating, taking a fistful of pills, and tearing up pension checks so he can flirt with lonely Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) about growing avocados and reading cheesy romance novels. All isn’t exactly well with Frank, though; in the middle of the night, an assault team tries to do some very bad things to him, but he manages to escape by using his his wits. He eventually hooks up with his old team: Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren)…not to mention an old Russian contact Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox). Their mission is to find out who set them up and to evade the CIA, led by CIA Agent William Cooper (Karl Urban). Their search takes them all over the country, including stops in Chesapeake, Pensacola, New Orleans, and Mobile (more on that later).
Bruce Willis is at his ass-kicking best as agent Frank Moses. He seems to channel a retiring John McClane, and he plays him as such. His Moses has a hint of calmness hidden deep inside gruff exterior. He still knows his way around an action scene, and the scene where he gets out of the police car while it’s still spinning is a sight to behold.
Mary-Louise Parker portrays a brand of ditziness and cuteness as Sarah Ross. It’s not too hard to see how she would be attracted to someone like Moses; she craves adventure, and he’s seen it in spades. She even shows some toughness when something happens to her and she needs to show her mettle.
As far as the rest of the cast, Morgan Freeman brings his grandfatherly charm to Joe Matheson as a slick hitman. John Malkovich is hilarious as the paranoid (due to daily doses of LSD) Marvin Boggs. Helen Mirren is regal as Victoria, and she shows how she was considered “one of the best wetwork agents in the field.” Brian Cox does a rather convincing Russian accent as Ivan Simanov, and it’s hinted that he has a history with a couple of members of the team. Karl Urban is very convincing as agent Cooper, and really gets to show off his action chops.
The film wasn’t so much directed by Robert Schwentke, as it was that he just put the players in position and got the hell out of the way. The action scenes are outrageous and over the top, but it’s based off of a comic book, so it fits. The score by Christophe Beck is forgettable, as his music is drowned out by the action on screen.
My major gripe with this film is how they portrayed Mobile, Alabama. I’m not 100% sure where they filmed those scenes, but they weren’t filmed with any knowledge of the city itself. Mobile has no mountainous vistas, and there are no hills of note. Both of those prominently displayed in those scenes. It shouldn’t have been that hard to find some geographical information about Mobile…I’m sure it’s on Wikipedia. Putting that aside, it was a fairly decent film, and a nice way to kill a couple of hours. I’ll give it two and a half dragon heads out of five, and I can recommend it for a decent matinee.
After all, it’s fun watching stuff get blown up in ways that are almost unimaginable.