RED Review

     October 15, 2010

Red is a movie that’s better than it should be and yet isn’t as good as it could be.  The jokes could be funnier, the action could be more exhilarating, the pacing could be quicker, but the film is still a success.  And yet with stronger direction and a more polished script, Red could have been one of the better films of the year thanks to its strong cast.  Not only do they play off each other well, but Mary Louise-Parker, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, and Helen Mirren all give terrific performances.  Red gets the job done, but there’s frustration in seeing it come up as only passable.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired and restless CIA Agent who spends his days doing menial tasks and ripping up his pension checks just so he has an excuse to flirt with his representative, Sarah (Parker).  One night, a special ops squad comes to murder the hell out of Frank.  Unfortunately for them, it turns out he was in the best in the business, and they’re the ones who end up slightly deader for the experience.  Frank then goes on the run to find out who’s after him, but first picks up/kidnaps Sarah since he believes they’ll try to kill her as well due to her connection to him.  The pair makes their way across the country and meets up with Frank’s former colleagues, who are also struggling with retirement.  Joe (Morgan Freeman) ogles the young women in the nursing home, Victoria (Mirren) is still taking contracts on the side, and Marvin (Malkovich) has become highly-paranoid and lives in a bunker (although that has more to do with the daily doses of LSD for 26 years than the retirement).

Unfortunately, it takes a little too long for the plot to get everyone together.  Red is a road movie where each stop introduces us to a character and then we have a plot point and/or action scene, but the momentum rarely carries from scene-to-scene.  Part of that is due to Robert Schwentke’s lethargic direction.  His action scenes are competent, but there’s rarely any moments that make you “Wow”.  He also doesn’t have much in the way of comic timing, which rests the burden of the humor on the script and the actors.  Jon and Erich Hoeber’s script is well-constructed and has its moments, but doesn’t have any big laughs.

The movie excels because of its cast.  It’s amazing that after 25 years, Bruce Willis can still win an audience with just a flash of his trademark impish grin.  Malkovich has the most colorful character of the bunch and he doesn’t disappoint.  However, he also doesn’t chew the scenery or try to hog the spotlight and I applaud his restraint.  The actor who almost ends up almost stealing the film is Parker and she does it with a nothing role.  On paper, Sarah is a love-interest/audience surrogate and not much else.  Parker’s comic abilities make the character come alive as she nails every joke and kills with priceless facial expressions.  While I wish Mirren and Cox (who plays a Russian former enemy of Frank’s) had more screen time, they’re wonderful whenever they’re on screen.  The only actor who comes up short is Freeman, whose character never gets to be more than a plot device.

Red is a film that lights the fuse but never blows you away.  A stronger director, a more polished script, and tighter editing would have made it into a great flick.  As it stands, the reason to see Red is because of its cast.  Watching these actors have fun makes Red fun.  It’s a shame that the action and the humor isn’t up to their level.

Rating: B-


Around The Web

Latest News

Will Forte Joins Key and Peele Movie KEANU; Plot Details Revealed

Key and Peele play friends who decide to pose as gangsters in order to retrieve their stolen cat.

ALOHA Review

Say ‘goodbye’ to Cameron Crowe’s latest film and possibly his career.


It’s not “The Rock vs. The Earthquake”; It’s “Dwayne Johnson and an Earthquake”, and that’s good enough despite a selfish “hero”.

Make-Up Legend Rick Baker Is Retiring; Cites Studios Wanting “Cheap and Fast” Over Quality

We've not only lost an icon, but an entire artform is in danger of becoming extinct.

Director Kyle Newman Talks BARELY LETHAL, His PG-13 Battle, Assembling the Cast, and More

Plus his thoughts on High School movies, his first cut, and doing the film independently.

Poster Roundup: ANT-MAN, LONDON HAS FALLEN and TED 2

Big bullets, big explosions and ... Ted.

FAST & FURIOUS 8: Vin Diesel Shares Promo Poster Teasing New Location

Things might be getting significantly more violent in the eighth installment of the immensely popular franchise.

Watch: THE COMEDIANS Star Josh Gad Plays “Save or Kill”

Plus he talks about his first TV crush, his hidden talents, the worst job he’s ever had, and more.

Natural Disasters: 8 Survival Tactics We Learned from the Movies

"United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody wanna say no?" Based on what typically goes down in natural disaster movies, you probably should.

RESULTS: Guy Pearce Wants to Know Your Goals in Exclusive New Clip

Cobie Smulders and Kevin Corrigan also star in this odd riff on the romantic comedy genre comes from 'Computer Chess' director Andrew Bujalski.

Page 1 of 3,96912345...102030...Last »