Fantastic Fest 2010: RED Movie Review

     September 30, 2010

Somewhere, there’s hours of footage of Bruce Wills, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren laughing their asses off. There has to be. The four award winning actors are having so much fun in their action comedy Red that there’s no way they kept a straight face after director Robert Schwentke called cut. Their obvious joy for the material comes across in every scene and that energy, combined with some cool action, makes Red a lot of fun to watch, even if the narrative is a bit thin. Hit the jump for more.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired C.I.A agent classified R.E.D.: Retired, Extremely Dangerous. He lives a simple life where the best thing that happens is an opportunity to call Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a pension operator. Then, one day, a hit team arrives in Frank’s simple suburban home and he must not only save Sarah, but round up his old friends (and enemies) to try and figure out why, after all these years of silence, they are being targeted.

All of that gets put together very quickly. And as the story moves along, it jumps from broad plot point to broad plot point without ever really giving much context or depth outside of surface information. Then, almost every 10-15 minutes, a new character is introduced played by an incredible actor: Freeman, Malkovich and Mirren of course, but also Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine. Each of them is having an incredible amount of fun making Red, chewing up the scenery and spitting dialogue out rapid fire. Chemistry and humor burst off the screen. Karl Urban also stars as the straight C.I.A. agent hot on Moses’ heals. He’s not quite as energetic, but still a worthy adversary.

Red is extremely loosely based on a three comic series by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner released in 2003-2004. Besides the major plot arc, there are probably only five scenes, scenarios or characters that carry over from the original comic. Plus, the comics’ tone is extremely dark while the film is light and fluffy. Even the violence is played off with a comic tone. That makes the action scenes entertaining, but almost devoid of tension.

With its amazing cast, exciting tone and slew of awesome action moments, Red is an undeniably fun piece of Hollywood action entertainment fluff. The plot is paint by numbers, but it’s a turn your brain off and smile film that’s exactly what the trailer and commercials are selling.

Steve here.  While I’ll be writing more about Red over the next few weeks, I wanted to also chime in and say how much I enjoyed Red.  The movie is exactly what Germain says it is, with the performances and chemistry between the actors making this a must see film.  I couldn’t help but think of the movie Sneakers while watching, because it’s loaded with an all star cast and everyone has a moment to shine.  In the coming weeks look for new interviews with the Red cast. Until then…

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