Monday, September 5, 2011

Movie – Red (2010)

Red stars Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freemen as four retired operatives for the CIA and MI-6.  “Red” is their designation.  It stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous.”  The movie is based on the Warren Ellis graphic novel of the same name.  While Morgan Freeman is a bit underused, this is a fun movie precisely because of who was cast to play the operatives.

Willis’ character of Frank Moses is shown living a quiet life in a quiet house in a quiet neighborhood.  About his only fun is flirting on the phone with the women (Mary-Louise Parker) who is responsible for seeing that he gets his pension checks from the government.

One night a team of killers shows up at Frank’s house.  He defeats them without too much trouble.  He realizes they are CIA and that for some reason his old employer has decided to eliminate him.  He also realizes that the woman he’s been flirting with is also in danger because he has shown an interest in her.  He kidnaps her and heads to meet another member of the old team, played by Morgan Freeman.  Freeman’s character, Joe Matheson, has terminal cancer, so he chooses not to go with Frank.  After Frank leaves there is an attack on Joe.

Frank visits John Malkovich’s character Marvin Boggs.  Marvin is, to be diplomatic, a little paranoid that the government is watching him.  The news that there has been an actual attack on Frank sets him off.  After some convincing he agrees to accompany Frank to meet someone who can help them, Victoria (Helen Mirren.)

We find Victoria doing her best Martha Stewart impression, living in a beautifully decorated house and arranging flowers as a hobby.  She’s also bored out of her skull.  She agrees to help Frank and Marvin figure out what is going on.

Other people in the movie are Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings) as an ambitious CIA agent who is given orders to eliminate Frank after the first attempt failed.  His boss is played by Rebecca Pidgeon.  Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, and Julian McMahon also play smaller, but still important roles in the movie.

Once the team puts all the pieces together they come up with a plan to kidnap the Vice-President of the United States (trust me, it makes sense, but saying why would be a spoiler.)  Helping them is an old Soviet, now Russian, agent played by Brian Cox.  He and Victoria have a past:  they were in love, her superiors found out, they ordered her to eliminate him, she put three bullets in his chest.  Love is complicated sometimes.

It’s during the kidnapping scene that Mirren gets to wield the big gun.  It is a formal fund raiser for the VP, who is going to run for President, so everyone there is in their best formal wear.  Mirren’s part includes pinning down the Secret Service in a parking garage.  She uses a large, mounted gun to do so.  She trained quite hard to ensure that she looked like she knew how to handle a weapon.  One of the biggest giveaways is blinking from the gun firing.  (This is one of the reasons most everyone in The Matrix wore sunglasses that hid their eyes.)  She trained herself to stop the blink reflex to better look like an experienced killer.

Red is not the greatest movie in the world, but it’s a fun trip seeing these older actors and actresses get to be in an action movie.  It’s not an action comedy, but there are many comedic elements.  Malkovich has a lot of fun with his crazy character, who probably lives by the motto “It’s not whether you are paranoid or not, but whether you are paranoid enough.”

Note:  There was a 2008 movie titled Red that also had Brian Cox in it.  Do not confuse it for the 2010 movie while buying, renting, or streaming.

I say give Red (2010) a try.  It’s a fun hour and 45 minutes.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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