Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren
Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, Ernest Borgnine, Karl Urban
Richard Dreyfuss, James Remar
Red has got to be one of the most fortunately cast unfortunate movies ever made. When you got the likes of Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren starring in a graphic novel adaptation you expect it to be brilliant or at least guilty pleasure.
The truth is that Red is none, it's more of a by-the-numbers thriller that under-uses its fascinating cast.
Willis stars as Frank Moses, a former black-ops CIA agent who's pulled out of retirement when agency members begin hunting him for a mysterious reason.
All he knows is that whatever's going on has to do with a secret list compiled by a reporter and that he has to keep an eye out to save Sarah (Parker) the phone operator he's developed a crush on.
Trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together he visits old friends including his mentor Joe (Freeman having more fun than he seems to have had in years), paranoid Marvin (a scene stealing Malkovich) and former wetwork agent Victoria (a sexy, luscious Mirren).
The movie then uses them in an assortment of situations that never achieve the kind of twisted lunacy you could get from having Helen Mirren and John Malkovich shoot machine guns together.
For all of its call to insanity and rebellion the film actually plays it very safe. It's always a delight to watch actors at the top of their game and when the veterans surprise you, it's also great to see Urban get some time in the spotlight, his turn as obsessive agent William Cooper is all kinds of wonderful. The one missing link in the cast is Parker who is totally miscast here, her part called for someone who played the part fully and gave herself to the insanity of it all, in the vein of Madeline Kahn in What's Up Doc? while Parker here seems selfconscious.
There's really not much to elaborate on Red without making it sound like it's a movie that should've delivered brilliance and without taking away the few merits it does have.