FANTASTIC FEST 2010
By Dave Campbell | October 15, 2010
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber (screenplay), Warren Ellis (comic book)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Ernest Borgnine, Julian McMahon, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss
Red begins with the introduction of Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), an infamous ex-CIA black-ops agent who is now in early retirement in the snow covered suburbs of Cleveland. Every week Frank gets a pension check in the mail that he promptly rips up so he can call in and report it missing to customer service agent Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), so they can have another flirty chat. Frank’s life has gone dull until late one night uniformed assassins in black enter Frank’s house to take him out. Frank kicks back into action and hits the road to pick up Sarah and seek out the “old” team who might also be in danger.
Getting the team back together takes them to Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman) who is in a New Orleans retirement home admiring the view of the young nurses, Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) is hiding out in the Florida everglades in an underground bunker because of his paranoia of the government, Victoria (Helen Mirren) is the elegant assassin now living the Martha Stewart life at home…but still packing heat.
The team must head to CIA Headquarters to find out why they’ve been marked RED (Retired & Extremely Dangerous), and why rising Special Agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is trying to kill Frank. With the help of old friends including Russian Spy Ivan Sinanov (Brian Cox), and Henry “The Records Keeper” (Ernest Borgnine), team RED uncovers a plot that involves a cover-up that leads to a twisty and consequential outcome.
What do you know? An ensemble, “blow stuff the hell up” film from 2010 finally got it right! Red completely satisfies where The Losers, The A-Team and The Expendables missed the mark. This isn’t an ensemble piece that relies on the explosions and one-liners to deliver the goods. It’s not flawless by any-means, as there are several time-lapses that are apparent throughout the journey and a couple of predictable outcomes that we’ve all seen before. Nevertheless, Red manages to fully tell a story by establishing characters and allowing them to surprisingly flourish between the comedic set ups and walls of explosions.
The graphic novel was much darker in tone, but director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan) and screenwriting team Jon & Erich Hoeber (Whiteout) have made significant changes in the areas of humor and romance to add to the blood and the thrill. Though the Frank Moses character varies from John McClane, this is the Bruce Willis that Die Hard fans will relish. And while Willis may be the lead, John Malkovich steals every scene by bringing his hilariously awesome crazy to the table. Big deal if the amazing 93-year-old Ernest Borgnine, Dame Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman are one slip away from using their AARP cards for a hip replacement, because seeing them class up a comic book movie while firing off high caliber weaponry…is just bad ass.