RED (2010, Schwentke)

Wouldn’t it be funny to see John Malkovich carry around a stuffed pig? Wouldn’t it be cool to see Helen Mirren using a machine gun? Wouldn’t it be grand to see Bruce Willis…do what Bruce Willis does in every film? These are the notions that RED functions on; seeing a group of mostly well-respected thespians do amusing things they wouldn’t normally do, in a film they wouldn’t normally be in. Even this basic assumption is inaccurate but that’s beside the point. RED is not a bad film; it is just too relaxed for its own good and too amused for itself to realize its own mediocrity.

                The plot concerns a group of retired CIA agents. The protagonist Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has struck up a relationship with Sarah, a customer service agent who he only knows through their telephone conversations. Moses is attacked at his house and escapes with the understanding that he is being hunted. To discover why, he tracks down his old fellow CIA agents which include Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich), Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Ivan (Brian Cox).

This is based on a short Warren Ellis graphic novel. I am told that only one character, Victoria, is even from the source material. I’ve read Warren Ellis and it’s safe to say; there is not an ounce of him to be found here. Debilitated right from the start by the painfully careless funk score by Christophe Beck, RED’s casual self-satisfaction leaves little room for genuine fun. The script is dull with no entertaining character dynamics or quick dialogue. The performances are all phoned in with the mild exception of Mary Louise-Parker. Nobody looks like they are having fun. Bruce Willis continues to look bored with every passing film. Does he even care about making films anymore? Did he ever? Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren do their job but cannot inject any energy into their work. The action scenes lack creativity and the characters themselves never feel truly challenged by anything happening to them, making the threat not very intimidating. RED goes through the motions from start to finish. The best part is when the end credits start as Bruce Willis shouts “Moldova sucks!” If more of the film had the zany quality of the last 10 seconds of the film, maybe there would be something here worth sitting through.


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