Entries Comments

Red Isn’t Nearly the Fun You Would Hope

Directed by Robert Schwentke
Written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber from the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner
Summit, 2010

Red is one of those movies that had to have been pitched as a “let’s get everyone that everybody in the world likes and the script will write itself” type of movies.  Bruce Willis will return as “aging action hero,” which has been his thing now long enough to be a genre.  Then let’s throw in John Malkovich, who has a likeable eccentricity following the path of Christopher Walken, you just can’t hate him in anything and he even has a critically acclaimed (eccentric) movie named after and starring him.  Helen Mirren classes up the joint because she’s British and she won the Oscar and has tons of credibility, and you know she’s game for a paycheck movie after National Treasure 2.  Mary-Louise Parker has gotten a ton of fame from Weeds after a more than 20-year under-the-radar career.  And then there’s Morgan Freeman.  Everyone loves Morgan Freeman.  Who are you to hate Morgan Freeman?  It is impossible to dislike Morgan Freeman.

Red begins with two people who have never met before talking on the phone and living out a fantasy that the other person on the end of the line is perfect.  Retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Willis) keeps purposefully tearing up his retirement checks so he can talk to Sarah Ross (Parker) about getting replacements.  Moses plans to make a trip to Kansas City and drop in on Ross so the two can meet, but then his place is unexpectedly ambushed by operatives looking to cut him down.  Of course, Moses is The Most Awesome CIA Guy Ever and those pricks end up dead pretty quickly.  He swoops in unannounced to Ross’s house and kidnaps her, fearing she might also be in danger.  Love is off to a rocky start.

Moses needs to figure out why he’s being targeted, so he finds an old pal, Joe Matheson (Freeman), and eventually ends up recruiting old friends for a team to go into dangerous territory, like Langley, to uncover the truth.  One of them is crazy hermit Marvin Boggs (Malkovich), and another is assassin Victoria (Mirren), along with an old Russian frenemy Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox).  The operation against Moses is being conducted by up-and-comer William Cooper (Karl Urban), who doesn’t quite know why he’s hunting Moses down either, but is eager to show his skills.

Despite a cast that you very much love to love, the movie crawls at a molasses drip.  There are a lot of “shrug” type of jokes in the movie, where people are nonchalant about the extreme.  The best scene in the movie is one you’ve seen partly in the trailer, where action takes place out in a shipyard full of containers.  Characters come and go: Parker’s character is essentially written out for 40 minutes, and I must have missed the motivation behind Freeman’s character and his inexplicable actions in the movie.  Plus, it takes over an hour before Mirren shows up.  There isn’t any reason to care about any of these people.  Nothing seems really at stake.  I mean, if they died, your life wouldn’t be any different.

But mostly, it’s just boring and rides the coattails of wonderful actors.  It expects you to like it based on who you get to see all at once, and thus, ends up being one of the most underwhelming movies I’ve seen in awhile.

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.