Film Review: RED (2010)

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Screenplay by Jon and Erich Hoeber

One of the best ways to spend a bit of quality time with the entire family is a good ol’ movie night. But what to watch for an audience ranging from 15 to 45 years old with interests ranging from action to rom com to thriller?

After two false starts, we finally agreed on the movie RED. With the credits bill containing names like Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren, it wasn’t surprising that we were all thoroughly entertained despite our different preferences.

Former CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is living out his less than interesting retirement. He finds company in Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), who works at his pension company. He frequently calls her on the pretense of asking for his missing pension check. In reality, he had torn up the check they sent just so he can talk to Sarah. Their over-the-phone flirtation, however, becomes a liability when a hit squad attacks Frank’s house in the middle of the night. After dealing with the assassins, Frank goes directly to Kansas City to save Sarah. Together, they locate and visit Frank’s old CIA contacts, following leads to find out who wanted Frank dead and why.

Everybody knows Bruce Willis can do action (Die Hard ring any bells?) and this film shows that at 55, he can still cut it. One particular breathtaking scene was when he steps (yes, I mean steps not jumps) out of a spinning car in slow motion and proceeds to start shooting at his pursuer without batting an eyelash. It looks even cooler than it sounds.

Marketed as an action comedy film, RED delivers on both claims. The comedy mainly comes from Sarah’s inexperience in covert ops and from Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich). Brilliant gun fights abound but more than that, this film has a great script and an amazing cast that together created real characters who are trying to do what’s right the only way they know how.

Frankly, the who-and-why plot needed to be fleshed out a bit more. The final revelation was not the climax it set out to be. That, however, did not take away from the film’s entertainment factor. Honestly, I gladly overlook that hole in the plot for the chance to see the stunning 66 year old Dame Helen Mirren in her beautiful white evening dress strapping on a pair of combat boots and firing off a Gatling gun. If that isn’t straight up badass, I don’t know what is.


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