Quick Hit: An enjoyable tongue-in-cheek action film.
Welcome to Christmas here at DFP! In the following weeks we’ll be covering some of the colors of Christmas – Red, Green, and White. Today, we’ll start off with the obvious – Red, a movie from 2010 starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. The movie opens with Bruce Willis who is obviously in love with the girl he continues to call just to talk to her. Eventually, we find out he’s a secret agent – but a retired one at that. He kidnaps the woman to keep her safe (because he’s suddenly being attacked), and we’re off to the races.
Red reminds me so much of The Kingsman series, and what isn’t surprising is that they are both based off of comic book series. Red lends itself well to that, with some extremely comic scenes that are just as outlandish as you would expect, all the way down to bullets exploding rockets and pigs filled with grenade launchers. There is actually some real joy in watching slow motion bullets here, not done in an over-serious matrix type way, but instead with the glee of a child playing with special effects for the first time.
The cast is tremendous, even if they all seem to be a bit lazy in their roles. Some of that may be down to acting choices – after all, all of these ex-agents are pulled from retirement in order to help Frank (Willis) unravel the mystery of why people are trying to kill him. Some of it also may be the fact that they are all accomplished stars who probably don’t have to work very hard to convince us here. Willis seems especially apathetic, wearing his traditional “Oh Shucks” grin at times and his action hero star scowl in others. My favorite inclusion happens to be the criminally underrated Brian Cox (in everything, never recognized) as an ex-KGB agent turned ally. He lifts the movie up when it is starting to drag through the middle act doldrums, and the movie doesn’t really slow down much.
Eventually, the movie moves into a bit of the movie we’ve continually seen more of as the Baby Boomer generation – a movie about the elderly still being able to pull off amazing things (see The Expendables, Going In Style, etc.). That’s ok, because this movie isn’t really about the plot at all. In fact, the plot, which concerns an old mission, the Vice President murdering people, and a few other trivial bits of “Oh My”, is really dull and lands with a shoulder shrug. It’s almost as if those that were making this movie realized that people were only coming to watch stars like Willis punch a much younger version of himself (hey, isn’t that the plot of Looper?).
But despite all that, I found a welcome respite to the outlandishness that pervades nearly every action frame in this movie. Whether it was Malkovich, Mirren, or Willis, or even Freeman stating “we’re getting the band back together”, I embraced the cheese with open arms, especially after watching so many award worthy dramas taking themselves seriously lately. It was a good example of a movie hitting me at the right time, and I’m giving it an extremely generous “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"