Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie Review: Red

In our modern hipster world of ironic entertainment it’s really hard to tell if “Red” is glibly self aware or obnoxiously cliched. Considering director Robert Schwentke’s last two films (“Flightplan” and “The Time Traveller’s Wife,”) I’m inclined to believe the latter, but “Red” is just so darned charming that I choose to believe the former. “Red” is a high quality action-comedy that steadily builds up energy an maintains it consistently throughout its two hour running time.

“Red” stars Bruce Willis as Frank Moses, a retired secret agent enjoying a quiet retirement and the occasional flirty phone call with call-center operator Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). When a botched assassination attempt leaves his quaint two-storey house riddled with bullets like so much suburban Swiss-cheese, Frank takes the fight to the enemy and assembles his geriatric covert-ops team for One More Job TM. Agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is the man charged with taking out Moses’ team and he’s deliciously hateable in the first act.

What sets “Red” apart from every other action movie? Helen Mirren firing a heavy machine gun. Besides that, it doesn’t stray too far from the ensemble-action-comedy formula, but it does it with panache, and good pacing... for the most part. There’s a half-hour kidnapping caper that adds virtually nothing to the plot, but gives Moses’ team a chance to look awesome and shoot at the presidential security force. It’s icing on the cake, but it’s like those boutique cupcakes that have twice as much icing as cupcake. It isn’t substantial, it isn’t nutritious, and it won’t impress my friends but dammit, I like icing, and I like gratuitous action sequences. Overall, “Red” is fast, funny, and fun.

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