(Robert Schwentke, 2010, USA)
The basic plot of Red (the operative word being basic) concerns a group of ageing Retired, Extremely Dangerous CIA operatives being targeted for assassination for reasons which aren’t initially clear. Bruce Willis stars as the lonely Frank Moss, suburbs dweller and leisurely stalker, who rally’s together four of his oldest (and still breathing) comrades to fight off the threat and uncover the corruption. The rest of the film is pure foil for the starry cast to expand their already diverse careers in, a cast which includes the likes of Morgan Freeman, an erratic John Malkovich and Dame Helen Mirren.
After a likeable opening which depicts the tedious life lead by Frank on his snowy suburban street, the film breaks loose with a series of breakneck action scenes and constant location changes, introducing new characters and slowly revealing the villains’ true agenda.
The film is an adaptation of an obscure graphic novel, but by the way it is portrayed on screen by director Robert Schwentke (responsible for last year’s failure, The Time Travellers Wife adaptation), you’d be forgiven for not actually realising it. Instead, Schwentke opts to portray the world the film is set in as a fairly preposterous platform for outlandish violence and unrealistic implausibility’s. This is a world where bullets are used in excess but have no effect and shoot-outs occur in the middle of the street without recognition, with one scene depicting the fairly impossible skill of batting away an oncoming missile with the handle of a rifle.
Though it is fun to see these legendary geriatric’s step away from their usually meaty roles and play around with the action-comedy genre, their characters aren’t convincingly fleshed out enough to resonate emotionally with the audience, leading to a scene resulting in one of their deaths not as poignant as it probably should have been. Mirren’s romantic subplot is equally as uninvolving and careless. Malkovich is, as with most of his films of late, the best thing about Red, channelling an uncouth unpredictability into his curmudgeon-esque character. Yet as watchable as Malkovich and Mirren are, the rest of the cast pale in comparison; Freeman is slightly underused, Willis looks bored and uninterested throughout, and Mary-Louise Parker is just plain annoying.
Neither funny or exciting, Red offers little surprises throughout its flimsy premise, going from one bombastic action sequence to another without a clear sense of direction. Though the cast are game and the action occasionally original, it isn’t enough to save Schwentke’s latest from drowning in its own bland inadequacies.
- Red, 2010. [Film] Directed by Robert Schwentke, USA: Summit Entertainment
- The Timetraveller’s Wife, 2009. [Film] Directed by Robert Schwentke, USA: New Line Cinema.