“Red” Movie Review

    “Red” is a nice change of pace film for everyone involved, especially Bruce Willis who is able to seamlessly jump into a role like this and play it up in both the action and comedy department.  In fact, all of the main players in the film are able to do just that.  After recently seeing John Malkovich in the dreadful “Jonah Hex” earlier this summer, he successfully redeems himself to comedic perfection in Red and works as an effective sidekick to the Willis character.  Together they help make Red a nice entry into this year’s fall lineup.

     The story revolves around the sudden assassination attempt on Frank Moses’ (Willis) life.  Frank is a retired CIA agent, and has no problem handling the team sent to his suburban home to kill him.  He knows more attempts will come and reassembles members of his former team in an effort to help him uncover a massive government conspiracy.  After finding Marvin Briggs (Malkovich), Moses goes on to hook up with Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox), and Victoria (Hellen Mirren).  With the team assembled, they begin to uncover several disturbing and revealing conspiracies involving officials in the highest parts of the government.

     There are several inventive action / comedy sequences involving all of the key characters and the dialogue remains sharp throughout.  In tow, Moses’ kind of girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) provides plenty of comic relief as she goes from working everyday in a cubicle to being thrust into some of the most dangerous situations imaginable.  Even Richard Dreyfuss has fun in a role as a dirty government kingpin.  What makes Red such an enjoyable film is simple.  The film is consistently populated with interesting characters.  Your seeing the majority of them way past their prime, yet as the tagline says “They Still Got It.”  Especially funny is a showdown of sorts with a CIA assassin who calls Malkovich’s character “old.”  Let’s just say the assassin made a big mistake making such an assumption!  In another sequence, Moses is in a fist fight with a rogue CIA agent.  Moses is able to get the guy into an arm bar on the ground and as he holds him in submission, he asks him who he was trained by.  When the agent answers, Moses tells the agent “I trained him!” and then promptly snaps the agents arm.

     The source material for the film is a cult D.C. Comics graphic novel of the same name and director Robert Schwentke oversees a nice jump to the big screen.  For the most part, the film stays fairly believable with the characters not engaging in anything that defies physics.  It remains driven by the story and doesn’t seem dependent on the action to carry it.  I never thought the filmmakers where staging action sequences just because it was time for one, rather they seemed to be part of the flow of the story and this is how it should be.

     With so many dud action / comedies this year (Willis’ own “Cop Out” comes immediately to mind), Red is a refreshing departure from the norm.  I went in expecting the same old thing from a group of fading actors, but what I got was a solid film courtesy of a very talented cast.  GRADE: B