Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Red" (2010)

Starring Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker and Karl Urban
Written by Jon and Erich Hoeber
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Rated PG-13 - Language, violence
Running Time: 111 Minutes

Red (Movie-Only Edition) [Blu-ray]Loosely based on the comic book of the same name, "Red" is a fun, light-weight action comedy.  Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has retired from his career in black ops, but finds that he doesn't really have much to do back in civilian life.  He's developed some kind of a crush on a customer service rep for the company handling his pension named Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker).  But for some reason, Frank finds that he is suddenly a target when a team of commandos breaks into his home one night and tries to kill him.  Suspecting that it has something to do with Sarah, Frank travels to Kansas City and kidnaps her.

Soon, Frank has reunited with a number of his old compatriots including his mentor Joe (Morgan Freeman), conspiracy theorist Marvin (Jon Malkovich), and an assassin named Victoria (Helen Mirren).  They discover that the attempt on Frank's life is connected to the death of a reporter who has been digging into an incident in Guatemala decades earlier that both Frank and Marvin participated in.  Someone has been ordering the deaths of everyone involved in that mission, and the number of survivors is quickly dwindling. 

All the while, CIA up and comer William Cooper (Karl Urban) has been assigned to find Frank and Sarah and to take Frank out, whatever means necessary.  Cooper manages to stay one step behind Frank and his team at every turn, but even he begins to feel that something is not quite right with this mission. 

"Red" isn't a particularly great film, but it does have some fun, snappy dialogue and a few cool action sequences to keep things moving.  None of the ideas in the film are really all that deeply developed; the relationships between the characters are fairly superficial even if the chemistry and banter between them is fun and energetic. 

The script might not be terrifically deep, but it does mine some good comedy out of the concept.  The elder agents coming out of retirement and schooling the young folks isn't a new idea, but it works here.  There are some really great actors obviously having fun here, including Brian Cox as a Russian ex-KGB agent in love with Mirren's character and Ernest Borgnine as a kindly CIA records keeper.  Karl Urban holds his own against these Hollywood heavyweights, and there are even a couple of parts where I thought to myself that he'd have made quite a good James Bond if the role hadn't gone to the ultra-awesome Daniel Craig. 

I haven't read the original comic book, so I can't comment on "Red" as an adaptation, though I understand that it's a fairly loose one.  Coupled with some solid direction and a surprising cast, "Red" is a perfectly enjoyable action comedy, albeit a disposable one.  It's hard to recommend it as a purchase, rather more of a rental with beer and pizza and a few friends.