A group of retired agents are forced to come out of an indefinite hiatus in Summit Entertainment’s Red. Based from the graphic novels penned by Warren Ellis and artist Cully Hamner, the film version isn’t as serious or violent as the source material. Lighter in tone, there are many funny moments, most of which are carried by a hilarious John Malkovich who manages to steal every scene. Bruce Willis, the straight man of the unit, is in true kick-ass form as former CIA agent, Paul Moses.
While living a life of solitude in a suburban neighborhood, Moses falls for mousy phone operator Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), whom he calls frequently about his pension checks. One night, after Moses decides to meet Sarah in person, operatives attack his home. His dwelling annihilated, he suspects his calls were monitored and shows up at Sarah’s place. Kidnapping her, for her own protection of course, he then enlists the help of retirees Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin, (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) to get to the bottom of the hit.
What happens next is very entertaining. While assembling the team, there’s an awesome car chase that involves the frazzled yet excited Sarah. Sarah has up until now lived vicariously through the secret agent characters she read about, the bad-ass Moses who is similar to the heroic characters idolized by the pension service rep and a ambitious CIA agent named William Cooper, played perfectly by, Star Trek’s Karl Urban.
I have to say, watching actors over fifty give other actors half their age a beat down is well worth the price of admission. Helen Mirren comes complete with a long elegant white gown, accented with combat boots and looks absolutely divine firing a sniper rifle. Freeman, who was quite convincing as baddy Sloan in Wanted, proves that even at age 73 he can still land a good punch. Then of course there’s Malkovich. Flawless in every part played, in Red, due to years of forced LSD consumption, Marvin is the loose canon of the group.
Upon the film’s release, there will probably be comparisons to The Losers and Knight & Day, but Red is definitely smarter and much more enjoyable than both. Screenwriters John and Erich Hoeber wrote a witty script and director Robert Schwentke definitely makes sure the audience is in for a fun ride.
To be honest, I went in with low expectations. I was let down by The Losers and another comic-book movie that shall not be named which starred the next Angelina Jolie. Safe to say, the bar wasn’t high. But my mind was quickly changed within the first few minutes of watching Red. Hats off to the director and cinematographer Florian Ballhaus (The Time Traveler’s Wife) for establishing the dry tone, which carried throughout the film.
In the end, what makes this movie worth viewing in theaters is what I mentioned briefly before, the cast. The chemistry between all the cast members is fantastic. If nothing else, watch the film for Malkovich. He’s a crazy old man, playing a crazy old man. It can’t get any better than that!
Oh, and did I mention that Ernest Borgnine is in this?
Helen Mirren firing heavy artillery, a whacked out Malkovich and Bruce Willis back to his bad ass glory, what more can you ask for?