Starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, Karl Urban and John Malkovich. Directed by Robert Schwentke. 110 minutes. PG
It’s hard not to form an immediate impression of a film once you hear it’s a comic-based film: people usually either like them or they don’t. I have to admit, I wasn’t really in the mood for some sci-fi, evil-crushing superhero flick when I went to see Red. And that’s OK, because you don’t have to be either. Red isn’t that kind of film.
Red follows ex-CIA black ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) who has been flagged RED (Retired, Extremely Dangerous), as he runs from current CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban), who at first seems to be chasing Moses for no apparent reason, though we do eventually find out it’s rooted in a past op that went down Guatemala. During the chase, Moses strings Sarah (Mary Louise Parker), the customer service agent who works at his pension office whom he’s been pining for over long distance phone calls, along. He also begins to reassemble his badass team of fellow CIA retirees in attempt to figure out and put a stop to the man hunt.
You’d think in an action flick in which Willis and Morgan Freeman headline, they’d be the highlights, but that nod goes the ladies. Parker brings naive quirk to her role as the clueless soon-to-be-girlfriend along for the ride. But it’s Helen Mirren who really brings it. You’d never guess that the women who elegantly held poise as the Queen could wield armory with such a fierce thirst to kill. Still playing the role with class and lady-likeness, Mirren shows off her versatility while still staying true to her own style. Ladies aside, John Malkovich also plays neurotic to perfection. Seriously. Malkovich was born to play crazy.
What’s also surprising about Red is that it’s a film about retirees taking back their lives that could so easily have come across as a snooze fest, but turns out to be anything but. It actually reminds me of another comic-based film about ex-special ops agents (well, soldiers) with a messed-up mission in their past who too try to recover their lives through wild gunfire and fiery explosions. Except this one’s just a little better. B+