Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RED - Another Blast At The Past

RED (action comedy)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban and Ernest Borgnine
Director: Robert Schwentke
Script: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, from the DC Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner
Time: 110 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Retired: Extremely Dangerous - Willis, Markovich and Mirren

WHAT? In their heydays, they have been their country's top operatives and assassins, carrying out covert missions that their government take great pains to hide. The things they did and the secrets they know make them a threat to some people - like ambitious politicians and corporate cheats. To these people, these former agents are classified "Retired: Extremely Dangerous" or RED!

WHO? We are talking about guys like ex-CIA agent Frank Morse (Bruce Willis who looks not a grey hair older than his Die Hard days); his colleague Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman); the fanatical Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich); former MI6 agent Victoria (Hellen Mirren) and ex-KGB boss Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox). Considering that they are based on DC Comics' graphic novels, you can expect over-the-top action and ridiculous visuals like a bullet meeting head-on with a rocket.

HITS & MISSES: Like The Expendables, this is another gathering of veteran action stars, fittingly led by Willis whose Frank Morse is courting a pension official named Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker, pictured, with Willis) over the phone. When Frank finds their lives in danger from CIA-sanctioned killers (led by a menacing Karl Urban), he has no choice but to kidnap her and go on the run all over the US of A. This, of course, is the start of a weird romance between Frank and Sarah that gradually changes from anger to respect, admiration and love.

The fact that director Robert Schwentke (who gave us Flightplan and The Time Traveller's Wife) documents their travels in fun-filled postcards helps to give the movie its light-hearted tone and texture. However, Red starts to get ludricrous before it cleans up its mess in the third act. Fans of Willis, Freeman and Mirren should just watch Red for the fun of seeing their idols back in action. The sight of Mirren being passionately courted by Cox and pumping out ammo from a machine-gun a'la Lara Croft should be worth the ticket.

THE LOWDOWN: Hollywood stars don't fade away any more, they get another blast at their past.


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