DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
RED (director: Robert Schwentke; screenwriters: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber/based on the graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner; cinematographer: Florian Ballhause; editor: hom Noble; music: Christophe Beck; cast: Bruce Willis (Frank Moses), Morgan Freeman (Joe Matheson), John Malkovich (Marvin Boggs), Helen Mirren (Victoria), Karl Urban (William Cooper), Mary-Louise Parker (Sarah Ross), Brian Cox (Ivan Simonov), Julian McMahon (Robert Stanton), Rebecca Pidgeon (Cynthia Wilkes), Ernest Borgnine (Henry, the Records Keeper), James Remar (Gabriel Singer), Robert Morse (Interrogator), Richard Dreyfuss ; Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura/Mark Vahradian; Summit Entertainment and DC Comics; 2010)

 
"It veers between high-octane and dullish moments."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

German-born director Robert Schwentke ("Tattoo"/"Flightplan"/"The Time Traveler's Wife") helms this thriller comedy, a commercial film that goes for cheap silly jokes to entertain the masses and doesn't give a damn at how bad is the film as long as it provides some thrills and laffs (which it does in somewhat generous dollops). All the respected talented star thespians let their hair down and are made cartoonish, as they go with the flow of a film that's based on the DC graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer. To its credit, the screenplay by the brothers Jon and Erich Hoeber remains faithful to the comic novel, even capturing its amoral dialogue. The tongue-in-cheek action comedy tries to charm you by depicting retired old spies as killers, which they think is so cute. Its intentions remind me of getting all-stars to play in an exhibition baseball game, where the crowd doesn't care who wins but is just glad to watch their favorite entertainers perform.

The title is an acronym for “retired and extremely dangerous.”

The plot has a South African heavily armed kill team try to eliminate laid-back retired CIA black-ops specialist Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) in his suburban Cleveland home early one morning. He escapes and immediately goes on-the-run and kidnaps the terrified Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer-service representative at the office that processes his pension checks in Kansas City and is someone he flirts with on the phone. Frank ties her up and gags her and places her in the backseat of his car for protection. Frank then wants answers as to why him and seeks out help from his crack elderly retired associates during his CIA glory days, scattered around the country, who include the eightysomething Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman); the eccentric, who acts strange because of too many LSD hits over the years, Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich); the polite but deadly sniper Victoria (Helen Mirren); and Ivan Simonov (Brian Cox) as a former Russian adversary and maimed lover of Victoria.

While the CIA retirees attempt to get to the bottom of this dire situation, the current CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban), a bureaucrat, tries to track Frank down and finish the mission as some kind of conspiracy is in the works that involves Frank about some mishaps around the world (don't ask for more details, the muddled plot is not important).

This leads to many familiar action set pieces that include your typical blockbuster action shootouts. It starts out well but soon deteriorates as it has nowhere to go and becomes increasingly grating and clumsy, as it veers between high-octane and dullish moments. Its junk filled meal includes the 65-year-old Mirren clad in a gown while mowing down the enemy with a machine gun and rekindling a former romance with the Russian agent played by Cox, the ornery twitchy weapons expert Malkovich plays is deemed ridiculous as he totes a giant stuffed pig around with him, and the funny banter between the super-cool Willis and the super-nervous Parker characters makes for one of the worst first dates ever and the predictable romance that's to follow.

It's a contrived film that senior citizens can share with the young adults in their appreciation of how smart-alecky entertaining Hollywood could be, or in how the movie industry has respect for only the bottom line and doesn't give a rat's ass who they insult to get that bottom line. Take your choice; I chose the latter. At least it was better than “The A Team,” that runs with a similar theme but can't match this all-star cast.

REVIEWED ON 10/17/2010       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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