By Andy McKinney
I sort of expected “Red” to pertain in some way to the color of blood, but no. “Red” is short for Retired, Extremely Dangerous. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren play retired spies, hence the name. It is of course the wonderful cast that makes the movie work. In lesser hands, the film would have dissolved into self parody. But because of the wonderful cast, it becomes a wild, fun and funny ride through a series of nearly believable events.
I often ponder who will become the next Bruce Willis and it may just be the man himself. He does a creditable job of manhandling a younger spy in the course of the film and does it so convincingly that we applaud him rather than laugh at the very prospect.
The story is true action movie fodder. Bad guys are suddenly after the retired Willis and we don’t know why. He fights and flees from place to place. At each stop he accumulates a few more clues and a few more confederates. Eventually, he has enough friends and knowledge to solve the mystery and subdue the bad guys. And it is done with style, verve and the occasional hangmen’s humor that the best of the genre serve up to the admiring public.
Malkovich has a chance to play a paranoid, trigger happy ex-spy and does a spectacular job of it. The famous and nearly famous supporters are also very good. This is almost as good an action movie as the now benchmark Borne films and has more interesting actors playing more interesting characters. Helen Mirren gets to wear what seems like designer cammo while doing duty as a sniper. Priceless.
Director Robert Schwentke keeps the action moving and inserts just the right number of jokes to keep us smiling without turning the whole exercise into a joke…which has been done this year in “The Losers.” Schwentke is turning into a reliable hand at the helm after the success of his previous “The Time Travelers Wife” and the exciting “Flight Plan.”
This three and half saw blade action-comedy runs an average one hour 51 minutes. The seemingly high $58 million budget may be tough to claw back, but it did respectably with a three day take of $22 million.
It is rated a tame PG-13 for violence, no naked folk and I can’t remember any bad words. I liked it and had fun watching it. You will too.
Also opening this week and at number one at that is “Jackass.” Those familiar with the franchise will no doubt enjoy it. Coming soon will be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “Faster.” It looks like a fast and bloody vengeance film. It is the kind of two fisted retribution that the Rock can deal out in spades.