Thursday, 7 April 2011


Lowdown: A collection of retired secret agent commandos find themselves in a tassel with someone up the food chain.
In contrast to my initial reaction to its title, Red is not a film about communists; it's just another case of stupid acronyms, this time "Retired Extremely Dangerous". As the acronym will lead you to believe, we are talking about yet another action film that's high on comedy, sort of a Lethal Weapon's "I'm too old for this shit" type thing.
We follow a Bruce Willis who is a retired secret agent with much fluency in commando skills, a fact we discover when a group of luckless commandos break into his house and try to kill him. Emphasis on try. Well, he never did get along well with civilian life, as his Christmas awareness (or lack of) testify; all he can do now is grab the [much younger] girl he chatted with a lot over the phone and really cares for before she's killed, too, and seek help from fellow geezers to try and find what the hell is going on. Together, this bunch of geezers - all of which retired commandos - fight it out to discover the one calling the shots against them is someone way up the American food chain, and their direct enemy, the one who hunting them down to kill them, is a young and very capable agent (Karl Urban of Lord of the Rings fame).
Things come down to this. Red is an ordinary action film that, for its own good, doesn't take itself too seriously. The extraordinary twist is with the cast: we have ourselves some heavy artillery acting talent here, including Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Ernest Borgnine, Brian Cox and Richard Dreyfuss. Hell, even Rebecca Pidgeon (a name that should be familiar to fans of audiophile recordings) plays here. In this plot about old people/stars making a comeback it can be argued that Red is similar to Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables, but clearly that is not the case - The Expendables fails miserably when it tries to take itself too seriously, whereas Red is sheer fun. If anything, I would say Red is very similar to Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys, both in themes and in plot structure.
Of course, it helps when Red does the action well. It's great to see Mirren with her heavy machine gun, and clearly Mirren has had fun in the process. It's also just as great to see the action properly instead of suffer from shaky camera nausea and the rest of the tricks commonly played by action directors who can't direct action.
Technical assessment: A decent Blu-ray in all respects that is helped quite a lot by a well recorded soundtrack reminding me a lot of Booker T & the MG's.
Overall: A worthy contender in the funny action film genre that is somewhat more than 3 out of 5 stars worth.

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