RED (2010) starring Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban directed by Robert Schwentke Movie Review

RED (2010)   3/53/53/53/53/5

John Malkovich, Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker in RED (2010)


If I was to be honest I would have to say that whilst a fan of Bruce Willis watching him in yet another action movie has become a little predictable as his cynical, tough guy persona gets used time and again. Thankfully "RED" is a bit different because whilst it sees Willis playing a former CIA Agent it not only allows him to use that same action persona but merge it more convincingly with his advancing years. Willis is not the only actor it allows to embrace their age because with a cast which also includes John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Brian Cox and Helen Mirren it has a stellar cast of older actors. And in many ways it is the perfect casting which makes "RED" so entertaining because they each are great at delivering the playfulness of their characters as retired but deadly agents.

For former CIA Agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis - The Expendables) life is dull compared to the adventures he went on as a top operative and now the only thing he has to look forward to are his regular calls to the Pensions department so he can chat to the pleasant Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker). But when one night a group of masked men try to kill Frank it forces him not only to track down and kidnap Sarah, fearing that the phone calls will have involved her but also track down other retired agents such as the paranoid Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich - Burn After Reading) and quietly lethal Victoria (Helen Mirren - State of Play). Now they need to work out why someone is after Frank and most likely them whilst keeping one step ahead of CIA operative William Cooper (Karl Urban) who has been tasked with silencing them.

Helen Mirren as Victoria in RED (2010)

Truth be told "RED" is the sort of movie where the storyline doesn't have a huge part to play or at least that should be Frank and his fellow RED's trying to work out who is after them and why doesn't have a huge part to play. But in fairness what we get whilst routine is enough as these old agents, accompanied by Sarah who finds it all very exciting, learn that a past operation they were involved in could incriminate someone with political ambitions and so has ordered them silenced. It plays out in a semi predictable way as we have various moments of action mixed with humour as Frank and the guys slowly work things out before a final big face off.

On the subject of action it is one of the reasons why "RED" works because it is fast and full of escapism and fun as these old guys out smart and out manoeuvre the younger agents and officers coming after them. And there is a lot of action with a scene featuring Frank climbing out of a spinning car being probably the most outrageous and memorable. It is a movie which definitely sits comfortable with fans of fast paced action.

But the real reason why "RED" is such a success is because of the casting and the wonderful playfulness each actor brings to their role. Willis is on fine form as Frank, giving us action hero but a more savvy one who outthinks rather than out shoots whilst giving us plenty of his trademark sarcasm but again more toned down to suit his age. John Malkovich is just as good as the paranoid Marvin giving us outrageous over the top humour but still fitting in with the movie whilst Helen Mirren gives us older, sexier and deadlier. It's not just the more mature actors which entertain, although they are the ones with the mischievous twinkle in their eyes, as Karl Urban is first rate as a tough young agent Cooper whilst Mary-Louise Parker is hilarious as the naive but enjoying it Sarah.

What this all boils down to is that I could sum up "RED" by saying more mature actors having fun playing smart action heroes because that is the key to it, the playfulness of the actors giving us fun characters rather than the actual action. But at the same time the action is perfect, escapist fun and fast paced so there is never a dull moment.