I honestly knew almost nothing about RED before I went and saw it, and maybe that was a good thing. I had seen a preview for it at some point a while back but it honestly seemed like the marketing was almost non-existent for this film. I knew that it had a lot of famous people in it and was something about retired assassins, but I almost wrote it off as another Expendables until I got the chance to see an early screening. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by this mildly funny, slick action pick. Of course it doesn’t have the testosterone of the expendables, but the lighter touch I think makes a winning combination when you are telling the story of a group of assassins.
The movie is about Bruce Willis (OK, I don’t know the characters names, but in a movie that is cast with all movie stars, I don’t think the filmmakers really care if you know the characters names) a retired CIA black-ops agent who goes throughout his mundane life before a team of assassins is sent to wipe him out. He then goes on the run with his never-met-before crush Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker) to gather information and essentially reassemble a team of retired assassins including Morgan Freeman, John Malkovitch, Helen Mirren and Brian Cox. Their purpose according to the plot is to find out why they are being targeted for elimination after they have been retired, but in all actuality, it was just so they could all get together and make sly one-liners, banter about age and do some serious damage. It feels like w you are invited to a party where everyone seems to be friends and at the top of their game, and that makes it fun for the audience as well.
The supporting cast is almost as good as the principals, but their characters don’t have near enough fun and are inconsistent in their portrayals. Bane plays the heartless CIA assassin who’s tasked with hunting down and killing Willis, but come to find out he’s a family man? Richard Dreyfuss plays the bad guy and his job is to be a sniveling bad guy. Not much else for him to do. Besides the acting, there is not much here to laude. The script has some very inventive banter, but the directions, cinematography and sets…were all very Hollywood: Top notch, professional and devoid of any personality. Luckily the cast more than makes up for the deficit.
The pacing of the film, could improve. There are too many slow times interspersed by very surreal sped up action sequences that jar the viewing experience. A certain philosophy may hold that the slow times are needed to balance out the overdrive of action explosions. While I tend to agree on this point, I thought that may of the spaces, long pauses, drawn out glances and awkward silences were more of an editing gaffe than intentional timing by the director. All the same, some of these lulls do enable the cast to build relationships and flesh out their characters. Mary Louise-Parker goes through the biggest metamorphosis from harried cubicle dweller to adventure seeker while John Malkovitch’s weirdo lends most of the comedy and care free abandon one would only hope to have in your later years.
I am not one to promote mindless action films usually (see my Losers review) but in this case, I think this film deserves a lot of praise. It is way too much fun and self-aware to be dismissed as horrible filmmaking. As a matter of fact, I would go so far to say that despite the script or predictability, it’s a very good movie. I can’t believe I’m owning up to the fact that a cast can save a picture no matter how mundane the plot, direction or film itself may be. If Alfred Hitchcock is right, and actors are just cattle, then these cattle must be some seriously funny top quality solid gold Angus.
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!