Action, cast make "Red" worth seeing
“Red” is great escapist entertainment and a serviceable action flick with an all-star cast based on a comic book series. Very loosely based on William Ellis’ best-selling comic series of the same name, “Red” opens up Ellis’ earnest comic series to the masses and makes the film version an entertaining dark action comedy with a superb cast. Even non-fans of the comic series (count me as one) will enjoy it though admittedly it grows tiresome considering the abundance of spy movies lately.
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a former black-ops CIA agent, who is now living a quiet life. That is, until the day a hi-tech assassin shows up intent on killing him. With his identity compromised and the life of the woman he cares for, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), endangered, Frank reassembles his old team ( , John Malkovich and Helen Mirren) in a last ditch effort to survive. Special CIA agent Cooper (Karl Urban) is hot on Moses’ trail, one of corruption that leads all the way to the Vice-President of the United States (Juilan McMahon).
“Red” is dark, entertaining and often hilarious, played well by an all-star cast that makes it considerably better than the predictable script. Directed with punch by “Flightplan’s” , the tone and pacing work remarkably well considering that many dark comedies in this genre generally don’t do well. Ellis’ serious comics are lightened up considerably and enlivened by great performances from the large cast, especially “Weeds” Parker, who gets in most of the best lines early on as Willis’ befuddled romantic love interest. Malkovich is also hilarious as the nervous ex-colleague who believes everyone is after him (he has one terrific action scene), yet it’s Mirren who all but steals the show when she gets behind the machine gun, she appears to be a real pro at it.
The handsome Urban gets a little lost in the proceedings, as do McMahon and Richard Dreyfuss as the bad guys, and Freeman is the only one of the leads who is unfortunately misused (and you may see hit exit coming from a mile away). Brian Cox is fun as a Russian spy, while crotchety old Oscar-winner (yes, that Ernest Borgnine, who’s been around forever) gets in a couple of fun scenes as a CIA records-keeper.
Spy movies are a dime-a-dozen these days, and some work better than others. “Red,” with it’s award-winning cast, source material and dark tone, is one of the better ones in the genre. It pulls no punches and no surprises, but it delivers some enjoyable action scenes.