Review: RED

Posted October 15th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

RED stands for “Retired and Extremely Dangerous” which is a classification given to only the best spies after they move on from their career. When an attempt to kill Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) fails it sets off a series of events that brings himself, along with some of his old friends, back to bring down a conspiracy. The movie is based on the graphic novel from Warren Ellis and while it retains some of the elements that made that work it ultimately falls flat.

I generally enjoy action comedies that play it straight and use the tongue-in-cheek type humor. In this case that involves these spies who have so much experience that really nothing seems to rattle them and they are always a step ahead of others. They have also found their regular lives to be terribly boring.

It just really didn’t click in RED with some of humor coming across a bit forced and ultimately failing to connect. I only laughed a few times which surprised me because the charisma of the actors is enough to pull off that much on their own. RED was also hurt by a PG-13 rating that made the action a little too clean.

Bruce Willis does an admirable job as does John Malkovich though neither turned in terribly compelling performances. Morgan Freeman’s character was actually quite boring and Karl Urban as CIA agent Cooper tasked with tracking down Moses was basically forgettable. The biggest disappointment was that Mary-Louise Parker didn’t have more to do as she provided much of the fun early on as she got dragged into the mess by Moses as a love interest.

Following the layout of the comics there are frequent jumps to new locales. That was a little off-putting however, going from Kansas City to New Orleans to New York to Florida to Chicago with no sense of time having passed. They just basically show up there. I did like that the story took place in various settings but there was really no development in between making the movie feel somewhat like it was just a string action sequences pieced together.

It was also hard not to question how the collateral damage of some of the events could just go overlooked. Even in the case of a fight between Moses and Cooper which took place in CIA headquarters of all places. Somehow no one noticed the fight taking place despite it being in plain view. Most of the carnage throughout the film happened right out in the open but the characters remained oblivious to that and it never hampered their efforts.

RED isn’t a terrible movie as I did find myself mildly entertained throughout. However the laughs couldn’t be sustained, the action was a little too convenient, and the story delivered nothing new.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆