Bruce Willis isn’t what I would called a versatile actor. The same could be said with Morgan Freeman, or John Malkovich. At the very least, in every role that these people had played, there is a red string that connects them all. Even if the string is quite vague and probably difficult to be put into words, they are there. But really, for such a talent we came to know for decades, why would we want them to change? When we, well, *I* saw Bruce Willis name running on the marquee, for example, I would expect him to sort of be Bruce Willis just like his usual Bruce Willis and that is why this film worked. Same script, same director, but different actors? People may not bother to came into the theater at all.
Frank Moses was a CIA agent with experience in highly covered black-ops. He is retired, and restless, as he wade through his days in a ‘normal’ way. He seeks solace, or perhaps, a hope for a wanting of a peaceful, normal life in the form of a claim officer, Sarah Ross whom he never even met and only in frequent calls when he phoned his pension check claims. One night though, Frank was reminded to his old former self when an assault team stormed his house and left more empty shell casings than your usual Vietnam war film. Knowing that whoever aims to ‘erase’ him would leave whoever he is ever been connected with in danger, Frank kidnaps Sarah to save her and seeks the reason through his acquaintances from his days at the Agency. A 80-year old, stadium four cancer patient, Joe Matheson, the paranoia Marvin Biggs, a former MI6 agent, Victoria, and even a former KGB higher-up, Ivan Simanov. And the stage is set, with the ‘current’ CIA as the main antagonist, represented through the ambitious William Cooper. Rest assured that before the final curtain falls, there’ll be more shots, explosions, and punches flying than you’d probably care.
I was totally hooked up with this film when I saw the trailer where Bruce Willis as Frank Moses climbed out through his still in motion battered police vehicle, aiming a gun, and shooting it with the utter calmness as if he is walking Miss Daisy (uh, the pun) through a warm and calm Sunday afternoon. If one thing the film does right is that, the action sequences. It won’t blow the water or written down as a game changing invention or whatever, but given the relatively bad year of film, “Red”‘s action choreography will I think, be one of the stand outs. Plus, they were executed in such manner in accordance to the overall “Retired: Extremely Dangerous” theme of the film that most of the time, worked. I mean, how or where else would you feast your eyes on Helen Mirren in an evening dress, firing a mounted machine gun?
Now, during and after I had seen the film, I had mentally made a comparison between this film and Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven” in a way that the film should merely be an excuse for these people to get together and go crazy. Say what you will but I personally thought that Soderbergh’s Ocean films are among my favorite trilogy because it’s crazy, it’s fun, and a perfect companion for a lazy evening with your wife snuggling besides you. No heavy commitment necessary and there are obviously times when that is how we like to spent our evening.
On a certain level, “Red” is fun enough. John Malkovich is extremely comfortable in his role as the lunatic, conspiracist, and government paranoia. It was a resemblance to his (superior) performance in “Burn After Reading.” Personally, most of my laughs came from him. Helen Mirren is the source of most of my amusement and she looks stunning even in her not-so-young age. Morgan Freeman is well, a Morgan Freeman and Karl Urban was still one of my favorite underrated supported actor. Bruce Willis looks like he has been swallowing a cactus but at least he is way better than his previous dud in “Cop Out” and hey, it’s Bruce Willis! He ate cacti before breakfast. In short, by the exception of the leading lady, I’ve got no complaint on the acting department even if they weren’t exactly unanimously in excellence. The leading lady, Mary-Louise Parker from “Weeds” TV famous, is attractive on her own way but I simply don’t buy her supposedly growing relationship with Bruce Willis’ character. An expendable damsel in distress that instead of made us rooting for her, raises the question of whether she is worth the trouble saving.
All in all, when you need a pleasant evening with your significant other, and action-comedy is your thing, this film won’t disappoint although I’ve got to admit that the laughs, for me, were too few and too far between to what I had been expected in the first place. That’s why I generally avoided movie trailers. It built an expectation and disappointment is in waiting when your expectation is put too high. Usually, it does.
My rating: **1/2 / **** The film is what would you expect from the premise. The casts were known actors and they’ll definitely forgiven in this film because we thought that they were having fun. Well, it was fun enough, but for me, the funs were too few and too far between.
Note: The choice of Helen Mirren poster is deliberate. As I’ve been saying, her character is the source from most of my amusement.