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Movie Review: Red

Red is an American action-comedy film loosely inspired by the three-issue comic book limited series of the same name created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. Frank Moses (Willis), a former black-ops CIA agent, is now living a quiet life in retirement. However, he begins to feel lonely and often chats on the phone with Sarah (Parker), a customer service agent working for Frank's pension office in Kansas City.His life is disrupted when a hit squad raids his house in the middle of the night. Frank kills the assassins and, knowing they would have tapped his phone, goes to Kansas City to protect Sarah. She becomes Frank's reluctant companion while he tries to find out who is trying to kill him, and track down his old black ops team for help. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper (Urban) is assigned to hunt and kill Frank (Wikipedia).

Overall, Red is an easy watch. The plot doesn't matter that much in the long run - the humor and action make up for any minor holes (or utter nonsense). To be honest, I had to look up the plot even after viewing the movie in order to remember what it was about.
The performances are really what make it enjoyable. Bruce Willis embodies a dry, down-to-earth man with a hint of hidden aggressiveness. He manages to capture the spirit of a bored retiree without falling into pathetic sulking. His romantic interest in a girl in Kansas who works at the place that sends out his checks, is sweet and endearing and immediately lets us know that Willis's character is searching for something more meaningful in life than his worry-free, post CIA existence. The other players are well-suited to their parts too, overall. John Malkovich is especially funny as an another retired CIA agent who is suffering from a bad case of crazyitis - a consequence of years of being plied with LSD. He is at once violent and childlike and somehow extremely likable. Helen Mirren is strangely sexy as a woman who still yearns for the action of work. A small side story of her putting 3 bullets in her lover in order to show her loyalty to her country is intriguing (but ultimately under-explored). She's sassy and classy. Even as she runs with the gait of an aging woman, you can still see traces of a very agile, dangerous killer. Morgan Freeman is underused, but when he does show up, he gives the same performance as usual - warm and fatherly - and while it's not bad in any way, its a bit too expected to be of any special mention. Mary Louise-Parker is, at turns, funny and flat. Her performance is bi-polar and the only one that felt weak to me, but her moments of true humor made up for the spurts of awkwardness enough that it didn't affect the movie overall. Karl Urban starts off a bit stiff, especially straining to cover his New Zealand accent, but quickly becomes fascinating to watch as the current CIA agent ordered to get rid of Moses, and his ruthless, business-like way of killing is contrasted nicely with his flashes of family life and concern about right and wrong.

The action is also good in most places, but edited strangely in others. The hand to hand combat, especially between Urban and Willis, is wonderfully shot and edited smoothly. Their fight in the office is one of the best mano-a-mano fights I've ever seen in a movie. However, some of the more explosive action sequences are edited a bit oddly. It seems the movie was shot very graphically and edited down to a pg-13. If this had been done better, I would have had no complaints, but it seemed they were trying to cut it a little too close, calling for sudden cut-away shots that seemed too abrupt even as an artistic choice. But despite this, it was still thrilling and exciting to watch these old people running around matching fists and guns with the young CIA agents. The scene were Willis steps smoothly out of a spinning car to shoot at someone following him is ridiculously awesome, even as it is just plain ridiculous.
I give this movie 3 1/2 stars out of 5 and recommend it for dvd viewing (or a matinee). You can buy Red on DVD or Blu-ray from our store.

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+ comments + 2 comments

October 30, 2010 at 4:19 PM

I thought this movie was OK. Only 3 out of 5

March 2, 2011 at 8:44 AM

Entertaining movie. Though its not a very good movie that will blow you up but its the one that will surely make you feel better and you will have fun watching this movie.

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