Ror Reviews: RED
Click for my take on the latest DC comic adap starring Bruce Willis and a whole host of other old people. Some mild spoilers ahead..
I haven't read..RED. But I do know that this movie adap is supposed to be a lot lighter in tone, and really a completely different beast altogether. Apparently you may as well be reading(or watching) two different stories altogether. But, if there are any similarities at all plot wise, I must say I'm glad Robert Schwentke and co decided to lighten things up a bit, because taken dead serious this would most likely have been a cliché ridden bore. As it stands, it doesn't ever surprise, but its far from boring!
The plot is very simple. A retired CIA spy type dude named Frank Moses(Bruce Willis) leads a boring life, occasionally chatting up the chick(Mary Louis Parker) that sends out his check over the phone. But when a bunch of special forces type dudes come to kill him, he has a chance to relive his youth as he kidnaps the check chick(cos they heard him talk to her see), teams up with his old(OLD) CIA mates(John Malcovitch, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren) and sets off to find out why he is being targeted. All the while having to evade capture/death at the hands of a ruthless ..ehh, other special FBI type dude(Karl Urban) and his men. It sounds like your run of the mill, typical action thriller, and it is! But its also got the above cast, and they work wonders. Any movie like this runs a big risk. If you want to go dark(The Bourne movies for example) then you have to tone down the over the top action a bit and lay on some more character development. On the other hand if you go too light or cheesy(The Expendables), you have be careful that any more serious moments you decide to bring into the plot don't lose their impact because of that. Unfortunately RED falls victim to the latter a bit. It aims for action/comedy but then there are much darker moments that seem to belong in a different movie. One scene in which Bruce Willis(The hero!) visits Karl Urban's house to threaten his wife and children seems to be an attempt to remind us that Moses was every bit as ruthless a killer as the "bad guys" are. But when you also have scene in which John Malkovitch and his hand gun play chicken with a rocket launcher..and win. It jars. Thats not the only example either. Without spoiling things too much, at one point someone dies and we really should care. We don't. And not even just because of the tonal problems I described, but because Scwentke doesn't even really seem bothered in trying to get us to! Its handled as an almost throwaway moment.
The action scenes are handled well, and there are a few great moments such as Willis stepping from the police car bit from the trailer. Its just that after a while it all gets very predictable and interest can't be maintained by constant gun fire. As I said before, it never gets boring because you do want to see what happens to the characters, but they really should have tried for something a bit less expected with the final act. But like I said , the cast elevate it. Willis doesn't exactly stretch himself, but he's likable and cool as ever. Malcovitch is a definite highlight as the paranoid nutjob.. only they really are trying to kill him. Freeman doesn't have that much to do despite getting second billing, but does it with the usual excellence. And Mirren is class. She oozes danger and sex appeal better than 90% of the younger actresses attempting similar roles today. Parker(yum) is also on top form as Frank's love interest, getting the most laughs(from me anyway!). Then we have Karl Urban as the antagonist. He's ok. I have seen him much better though. I guess he's just outshone a little by the cast around him. Add in Brian Cox as an ex KGB enemy turned friend and Julian McMahon as a slime-ball bastard( is that guy ever going to be able to play anything else?), AND Richard Dryfuss and Ernest Borginine in smaller roles and we have some damn cast on our hands. Thank God. Because really, without them you could easily knock a star off the rating below.
Do check out RED if your in the mood for an enjoyable enough action romp with some funny moments and a great cast, just don't expect too much of it.
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