Saturday, November 13, 2010

Movie with Abe: Red

Directed by Robert Schwentke
Released October 15, 2010

It’s rare to find an action movie, and a good one at that, where most of the stars are in their fifties or older. Yet, miraculously, that’s the case in “Red,” adapted from a 2003 comic book series and starring some big names that have been around for a number of years. It’s not a magnificent movie, falling prey to plenty of silly storylines and a few plot holes, but it’s a marvelously enjoyable film due both to the intensity of the action and the wildly amusing performances of the many actors involved in the production.

“Red” doesn’t show any signs of aging, keeping up the pace of an action flick with younger stars after a slower, witty start that introduces Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired spy who rounds up his old posse when he is nearly assassinated by a CIA hit squad. His reassembled entourage includes the savvy Joe (Morgan Freeman), fierce gunwoman Victoria (Helen Mirren), and the nutty, paranoid Marvin (John Malkovich). Also along for the line, unwittingly and unwillingly at first, is Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), the woman Frank has been flirting with on the phone who becomes involved when those who tried to take out Frank decide to go after the people he loves (or in this case, likes).

What ensues is a mixture of funny conversation between the senior citizen former agents and furious gun-filled combat scenes, mostly featuring Willis. The film should definitely be termed a comedy, but like “Rush Hour,” it properly balances its dual role as actioner and laffer. The cast certainly knows how to make that balance work, and this is definitely among the better performances “Die Hard” star Willis has given in recent years. Mirren and Freeman handle the comic moments well, and Malkovich delivers yet another film-stealing performance this year after his humorous in “Secretariat.” The real find, from the younger generation, is Karl Urban, as the super-spy on the trails of these retired, extremely dangerous persons. Urban has previously starred in films like “The Bourne Supremacy” and “Star Trek” (as Bones), and hopefully his next role will be as an even match for James Bond since he has mastered the art of making surveillance and hand-to-hand combat look sleek and easy. The cast as a whole, including an initially frantic and later excited Parker, makes this film come alive and work well. Aided by the occasional use of stylized cinematography, this film is a purely entertaining experience.


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