Red is a fast-paced romp
An award-winning A-list cast and well judged, tongue-in-cheek humour
enliven Robert Schwentke’s explosive action comedy based on the comic
series by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner.
Embracing the air of preposterousness that blows through every frame,
RED - an acronym for Retired, Extremely Dangerous - pits a team of
retired CIA agents against the government that once employed them to
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The veterans might be getting on but they certainly haven’t lost the
When a young female assassin dares to insult one of the gang - “She
called me an old man!” he gasps - he shows the newcomer that her
state-of-the-art rocket launcher is no match for his old-fashioned
Ernest Borgnine, now 93-years-old and still with a twinkle in his eye,
enjoys a cameo as the keeper of the records back at CIA headquarters.
They don’t make ‘em like they used to.
Former Black Ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has retired from
active duty and now carves out a mundane existence in suburbia, where
the highlight of his day is flirting on the phone with customer services
agent Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker).
When a gun-toting death squad razes his home, Frank goes on the run with
Sarah and heads to Louisiana to reunite with old friend Joe Matheson
(Morgan Freeman), then on to a secret bunker to re-enlist conspiracy
theorist Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich).
As the body count rises, the former agents and Sarah add sniper Victoria
(Helen Mirren) to their ranks and unravel the mystery of an old mission
Meanwhile, CIA handler Cynthia Wilkes (Rebecca Pidgeon) orders her best
man, William Cooper (Karl Urban), to find the old timers and retire them
Betrayed by their country, the veterans turn to Cold War enemy, Ivan
Simanov (Brian Cox), who has schematics of CIA HQ and can help them
Red is a fast-paced romp that severs sinewy ties to realism early on and
once we suspend our disbelief and put our brains into neutral,
Schwentke’s film is a lot of fun.
Where else could you see Willis step out of the door of his car as it
spins through 360 degrees and keep walking, gun a-blazing, as the back
end of the vehicle skims round neatly behind him?
There’s great rapport between co-stars, like when Frank turns up at
Joe’s nursing home and asks why he has suddenly been marked for death.
“Vietnam, Afghanistan, Green Springs Rest Home. Go figure!” retorts his
Cast against type, Malkovich and Mirren are clearly having a ball, the
latter telling Sarah in no uncertain terms, “If you break (Frank’s)
heart, I’ll kill you then bury your body in the woods.”
Parallel romantic subplots are fluffy nonsense - a concession to female
audiences - but competently handled.