A Discussion of RED

RED is the story of an old man and the woman of his hopes. As it begins we are introduced to our hero, Bruce Willis, who is a retiree who constantly lies about his pension checks so he can call the help center and talk to a young woman that he is obsessed with. She seems to be the only thing in his life that gives him any sort of happiness and he finally plans to take a trip and visit her. Unfortunately his plans are interrupted by a hit squad that he easily dispatches. It turns out he was once a spy, Retired and Extremely Deadly, and now his old bosses are looking to put him under. He proceeds to kidnap his would-be girlfriend and then assemble all his old partners so he can put a stop to the death attempts.

 I like this movie, and found is funny, but it is a film that survives solely on the merits of its actors. Willis does his thing and is suitably bad ass, and honestly there are a couple of really good moments. He is surrounded by other notable actors such as John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helan Mirren, Brian Cox, and Ernest Borgnine. Each of these are fine actors, and as such bring their own touches to the characters portrayed, unfortunately that is pretty much all there is to the film. It is the most shallow ‘character piece’ ever. That said, I really enjoyed Malkovich here, the bits with the pig were awesome.

Opposing these aging agents is Karl Urban, whom I was surprised to see in the film. I enjoy his work and as his role here is something of a successor to the old guard I like to think he is getting a nod from Willis and co. to be the true next guard in action heroes. Gushing aside, he does a good job in this film, and I was actually rooting for him in many scenes. Yes, I opposed Bruce Willis, that’s how much I liked Urban in this film. I also loved Willis love interest, played by Mary-Louise Parker, my friend who attended the film with me found her creepy, but I found her pleasantly enjoyable and felt a crush growing.

And that’s really all there is. It’s a bare bones spy plot that exists to showcase great actors. I actually found myself wondering how well the comic fared without having these actors to make the material work. It’s a funny movie, and worth seeing, but it lacks that extra something.

RED gets a 3/5.

Personally I think one of my problems is that this film was a comedy. The main characters are mocked because they are old, but that never seems to impede them, they are every bit the equal of the younger characters. I would have preferred a somewhat more realistic tale, with the older generation having to use everything at their disposal to outwit and defeat the younger generation. A culture clash of sorts, but instead it’s basically just ‘famous people vs faceless groups led by Karl Urban’. I have not factored my personal feelings into my review, and reflect that by placing this paragraph after the rating.

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2 thoughts on “A Discussion of RED

  1. You are right on this: though I have not seen it, I know the film must stand on the shoulders of its actors. I mean, look at the advertising, with each poster an amalgam of its leading cast, each in some suitably badass, yet intriguing pose.

    But then, I might take exception to you not expecting a Bruce Willis flick to feature some comedy (if not focus on it entirely); I mean, the man pioneered the action-comedy wisecracking hero in Die Hard.

    Have you read the comic on which it is based? Is it too a comedy, or was that a liberty they took with the license?

  2. I have not read the comic, and probably won’t seek it out. It’s not somehting I am overly interested in, and if it does follow the movie closely it won’t have the same acting that makes the movie good. Plus I’m having “Wanted” flashbacks.
    I might try and find a good synopsis of it however.

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