Red review - For a town as youth-obsessed as Hollywood, there’s been a surprising amount of oldies on view of late. The Bucket List, It’s Complicated, Sex And The City…
Never shy of chasing a dollar, the industry seems to have woken up to the fact that the baby boom generation doesn’t want to trek to the multiplex to see angsty teenage vamps or spandex superheroes.
But just because the leads have got older, it doesn’t mean they can’t still kick ass. Hence: the geri-actioner. All your standard explosions, guns etc, but now with added wrinkles.
And so, hot on the calloused heels of Gran Torino, Harry Brown and The Expendables comes graphic-novel adap Red, the latest addition to the “I’m getting too old for this shit” canon. And possibly the most fun.
RED stands for Retired: Extremely Dangerous. And it’s stamped all over the file of Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a former agent who once “toppled governments” but now resides in a modestly furnished suburban home, where he ponders whether or not it’s too early to put up the Christmas decorations.
In a nicely judged opening, we see Frank pottering about his blue and grey abode, eating tidy meals-for-one and putting out the rubbish. The only spark to his day? The phone chats he shares with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), the clerk who sends Frank his pension cheques.
Director Robert Schwentke allows this almost indie-movie mood to percolate before sending in the big guns. Literally. A SWAT team descends on Frank, who apparently knows too much to live.
One impressive ‘he’s still got it’ fracas later and Frank’s on the run, with a reluctant Sarah in tow (“I was hoping you’d have hair…”). Willis and Parker make an appealing couple, the latter’s neurotic energy fuelling possibly the best onscreen partnership Willis has had since Moonlighting.
A Midnight Run beckons – but instead, the film becomes The A(ged) Team, as Frank reassembles the old gang for One Last Job.
Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren have fun waving shooters around (even if, drama-wise, they could do the roles in their sleep), but the stand-out is John Malkovich, whose crazy Murdoch-like Marvin could have been a horrible piece of ham (see Jonah Hex) but stays just the right side of wacko.
And though the plot plays out exactly how you’d expect, the wiles of the experienced cast (aided by decent turns from Richard Dreyfuss and Brian Cox) ensure it’s the journey rather than the destination that matters.
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More playful than The Expendables, more charming than The Losers, Willis and co deliver a warm – and fun – actioner that benefits greatly from its seasoned cast.