James Helsby

LRE #27: Red

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:

Release Year: 2010
Staring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich

A second chance at love comes to former covert agent Frank Moses. But when things start to go right, they also start going very very wrong.

RED. R.E.D. Retired-Extremely-Dangerous.

An acronym that perfectly describes all of the characters in this movie. I would never have mentally picture a film   that combined Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, and Richard Dryfus, somehow being an awesome action flick. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what I got. I had a great time watching this film, and here is why.

It made sense. I mean, some of the plot was over the top, and the conclusions were really far fetched, but taking the idea that FORMER agents could still kick as much if not MORE ass than their younger rivals just agreed with me. Maybe it is just me getting older,  but seeing some of my film heros kicking butt old-school really made me smile.

The picture at the left, which shows Victoria (Hellen Mirren) man-handling a fully automatic 50-caliber machine gun, just was an image of joy for me. It’s not that I have a thing for Ms. Mirren, but come on. Seeing an elderly person handling fully automatic weaponry? How can that not make you smile a little. Add into that Marvin Boggs (John Malcovich) who has been systematically and methodologically brain washed through various psychotropic drugs, and thinks the government is out to get him… well, it just gets better and better.

But I stray from my review. Red revolves around former agent Frank Moses. It isn’t really clear who he was an agent for, be it CIA or FBI or some other organization, but essentially he is one of the best. But time keeps passing, and Frank is now in retirement. He regularly receives his pension checks in the mail, but at one time he had a problem with them. A few phone calls to the pension administration, and Frank starts to develop an affinity for Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) and pension worker on the other end of the phone. Frank starts to destroy his pension checks, just so he can have a chance to talk to Sarah again. Eventually, Frank works up the courage to tell Sarah that he will be in her town in a few days… Sarah agrees to meet him.

That night, Franks house is destroyed in one of the baddest displays of excessive destruction man has ever seen. A veritable hailstorm of gun fire, literally turns his house into something resembling swiss cheese. But for Frank, handling a professional hit-squad is a no brainer. But he is pretty quickly sent down the road of not only figuring out who is trying to kill him, but why. And he must protect Sarah, since she is at risk too. Enter Morgan Freeman, a man with answers and Franks former cohort. But in order to get things back in line, Frank must ally himself with a dastardly team of RED agents, Malcovich, Mirren, Freeman, and a former Russian agent Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox) all team up to not only uncover the reason why they are being targeted, but who is behind it. All the while fending off attacks from William Cooper (Karl Urban), the man who is essentially Moses replacement in the agency.

The action is pretty non stop. There are short breaks for dialog and exposition, but through out the movie it keeps a pace of fun and brevity. Never too heavy, and never too violent. It works well, with the exception of one thing. Bruce Willis isn’t old. Seriously, the dude is 55. No where near retirement age. Mirren, 65. Freeman, 73. Malcovich, 57. While I suppose it could be said that ‘retirement age’ within this agency is 50, it seems like with the exception of Freeman, none of the actors should really be considered ‘old’. Bruce Willis especially. He will always be John McClane or Korben Dallas to me.

Maybe that is the one caveat of this film. It will make you feel both old and young. Young for the fun, but old watching some of your childhood action hero’s getting a little bit older. But you know, along with the old comes the new. Karl Urban is very quickly become a favorite actor of mine. His spot on portrayal of McCoy in Star Trek, or as the new Judge Dregg (later this year) or even his lesser recognized roles of Kirill (Bourne Supremacy), Eomer (Lord of the Rings), and Vaako (Chronicles of Riddick) have made me stand up and take appreciation for his seriousness and strength.

So, Red gets a good recommendation. It was a lot of fun to watch, and was worth the time. It wasn’t too gory or violent. It made me laugh pretty regularly. It is a good choice for a Netflix queue, if you have the room. If you don’t? Just buy it. It’s one of those movies you watch late night on a Saturday night, after the kids have gone to bed.

How painful was it:  No pain. Good times had by all.

Rating: 8/10. Worth watching. Maybe not theater worthy, but worth Netflix without a doubt.

The Wife’s Retort: I laughed.

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