Thursday, November 11, 2010

RED (2010)

Written by Jonah & Erich Hoeber

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. October 25, 2010  7:45PM

The "Red" in the title of this action-comedy film, that is based on a comic-book series, cleverly stands for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous".and this is referencing a group of retired, older CIA agents. This film is all about people in their golden years and there is not a young hipster in sight.

We meet Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired, mild-mannered, middle-aged man living a quiet life, in a quiet suburban neighborhood. He doesn't have much going on in his personal life, so he begins a telephone relationship with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a sweet representative with his pension office in Kansas City.

One evening, a squad of armed gunmen surround Frank's home and litter it with hundreds of rounds of gunfire but Frank is able to escape and take them all down without a scratch. The reason is because Frank is a former Black-Op CIA agent.

Frank knows that his house has been tapped, so he rushes off to Missouri to rescue Sarah. When he arrives, she is not exactly welcoming, so Frank has to use a little force to get her to accompany him out of the city.

Frank drags Sarah along with him as they travel across the country rounding up other fellow, retired agents to help him figure out who is trying to kill him. First, he visits New Orleans to see his mentor, Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), who is dying of cancer and living in a nursing home, which the highlight of his day is checking out the ass of a young nurse.

Next, he finds Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who after a bad LSD trip is now paranoid and a conspiracy theorist but is still able to gather his thoughts together long enough when needed. Frank also gets help from Ivan (Brian Cox), a Cold War, Russian agent and Victoria (Helen Mirren), who appears to be a genteel, British lady but who is actually prepared for any trouble by having an assault weapon hidden in her flower arrangement. She also had an affair with Ivan years ago but that ended after she had to put a few bullets in him.

The retired agents all team up to try to unravel this elaborate plot involving a secret mission in Guatemala, a list of people involved in that mission who are now being killed, a wealthy man (Richard Dreyfuss, more hammy than usual) who was also on that mission but, for some mysterious reason, is not on the list, plus the U.S. Vice-President (Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon) somehow mixed-up in all of this, in addition to a CIA Agent (Karl Urban) assigned to track down Frank and take him down.

It's all nonsense but it's entertaining nonsense, none the less. "Red" offers nothing necessarily fresh to the action genre beyond the heroes all being of the age to collect Social Security but that is enough to make it novel and invigorating because every move the agents make come from a well thought-out, seasoned perspective. What I find most interesting about "Red" is that it dares to celebrate maturity which is really unusual for today's Hollywood film since most seem to cater only to people who think the 1985 Sylvester Stallone action flick,"Rambo II" is a really old movie. Perhaps this may be a trend because Stallone rounded up fellow, aging action stars and risked breaking hips to make the summer hit, "The Expendables" and that worked out very well for him.

Audiences do like nostalgia so, with a classy cast of established actors involved, it does make "Red" hip and shakes up the routine of the typical action film, somewhat. Of course, most of these actors are slumming, but who doesn't want to see Oscar-winning, Dame Helen Mirren shooting a gun? The actors all help the film by adding their special brand of style and star quality to these proceedings plus they all seem to be genuinely having a good time, so what's the harm?

"Red" is your basic thrill ride that is spiced up just enough with good humor and top-notch actors to make this a satisfying and fun film for all ages.