By Gary Murray

Starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker

Written by Jon Hoeber

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Running time 111

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE

Red stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous. That is exactly how Bruce Willis comes off in the newest action thriller comedy based on a DC comics graphic novel. This little flick is one of the best cinema rides of the year.
Our man Bruce stars as Frank Moses a man in fly-over country, existing in suburban hell. His only contact with the outside world is Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) a young woman who works at a distant Social Security office. Very early on, it is understood that Frank has feelings for Sarah. He routinely destroys his check just to have a reason to call her.
One night a group of South African hired gun-men attack the little house, taking the building down to toothpick shards. After disposing of the gun-men, Frank is off to find Sarah. Since he has been talking to her on the phone, the people who have been monitoring him know his affections. Frank basically kidnaps Sarah and heads for New Orleans and the only person he can trust Joe (Morgan Freeman). They worked together many years ago and Joe is just waiting for cancer to take him down.
The plot twists and turns as Frank and Sarah go around the USA to visit the rest of his team. John Malkovich plays Marvin, a man who has taken one too many hits of acid and seems to have a very slippery grip on reality. Helen Mirren is Victoria has settled down to a suburban life but still pines away for both the old way of life and her old but not forgotten love. Basically, Joe sums it up by saying "We're getting the band back together."
The crew is followed by a CIA agency that doesn't know the RED past and the characters he is up against. We have the four heroes trying to find out who has set all of them up as while avoiding both the current agents and the nefarious characters that mean to do them harm
Director Robert Schwentke seamlessly blends action and comedy, giving a solid mix of bullets and giggles while never going overboard on either side. There are some single shots that move with ballet motion and guns blazing. At times we get a Sam Peckinpah style of action shots but without all the blood and carnage. But with a cast as strong as this, he had the best ammo in his direction chambers. To let the audience know the locations, he uses a very snappy group of animated titles.
The film is more sophisticated than it need to be, while never losing the fan boy fun.
Helen Mirren plays a semi-retired CIA agent, only taking the occasional contract to spice up the boredom. She just shines in scene after scene, stealing every beat of screen time. She just adds a degree of class to a typical macho world.
Mary-Louise Parker just oozes charm with her 'fish out of water' role of Sarah. We get a great group of reaction shots when she sees the length and breath that Frank goes to protect her. The stunned look of being overwhelmed gives the audience a 'normal person' in basically a 'super hero' style convention
Both Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich have played these roles before so there is not much stretching of static characters. Though both seem to be having a ball as they outwit the younger and stronger forces they are up against. Particularly John Malkovich just hams up every scene as the whacked out agent, seeing conspiracy in every corner of the world.
Bruce Willis just commands the screen in every scene he's in. He has done this character many times before but he still has not worn out his welcome as the action hero. The only part of this role is one has to believe that he has a hard time connecting with women. That is just a stretch of the imagination that almost breaks the set-up.
Simply put, Red is just a heck of a great ride, a fun diversion. With all the horror flicks coming out, this is a fresh change of pace for October. This is a film you don't want to miss.


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