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


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retired CIA agents against the government that once employed them to

kill.

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The veterans might be getting on but they certainly haven’t lost the

killer instinct.

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

revolver.

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

in Guatemala.

Meanwhile, CIA handler Cynthia Wilkes (Rebecca Pidgeon) orders her best

man, William Cooper (Karl Urban), to find the old timers and retire them

permanently.

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

break in.

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

friend dryly.

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.

Rating: 6.5/10

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