How many countless action comedies employ the ditzy female accomplice, a corrupt politician conspiracy, evil FBI agents and a group of invincible heroes? RED is one more, however few films exhibit such an impressive ensemble of seasoned actors. The story and action may recall repetitive silliness, but when you gather a cast of this caliber together in one place, there’s bound to be an adequate helping of solid entertainment. In fact, the outlandish adventure scenes and recycled plotline only work to space out each round of playful banter exchanged by the masterful crew who embody their characters with giddy relish. The more lighthearted exploits will likely please general audiences while fans of the original comic book might wonder why only the title remains the same.
Retired Black Ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) attempts to adjust to his civilian days and even toys with the idea of a normal life by flirting with his pension services advisor Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). When an FBI hit squad infiltrates Frank’s home and tries to kill him, the highly-trained specialist must gather together his old team of operatives including Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), and Victoria (Helen Mirren) to uncover the mystery behind his death warrant. As the band of renegade soldiers inch closer to the truth, they must stay one step ahead of their pursuers while dodging the limitless resources of FBI agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) and trying to protect the bewildered Sarah.
RED is highly derivative of just about every mindless action film of late, proudly showcasing senseless violence, laughable amounts of destruction (there’s nothing quite like the sight and sound of a house being ripped apart by impressively relentless machinegun fire), enormous explosions, slow-motion showdowns, comic-relief characters, witty one-liner dialogue, and a plot involving backstabbing and betrayal. Like True Lies, Sarah desperately wants adventure out of her boring existence, and Frank is happy to oblige. Like The A-Team, a foursome of professional killers assembles to pull off the most ridiculous missions and waltz about with an undeniable air of invincibility. Like Shoot ‘Em Up, there’s a focus on action for action’s sake and copious amounts of bullets whizzing everywhere. Like Salt, Frank is able to rapidly construct makeshift chemical bombs and escape inescapable, highly guarded strongholds. And like Knight and Day, the characters are all larger-than-life, capable of surviving, infiltrating, impersonating, reconnoitering, disrupting and executing every task in top secret assassination plans, all with charm, a smile and a bit of romance.
It’s like something out of a cheesy romance novel – very silly, but easy to get carried away with in the moment. In fact, the movie tries to model itself on just such a notion, using animated title cards to introduce the frequent changes in scenery and locations. The characters are astonishingly unrealistic, high on the adrenaline of shooting and killing, like the audience should be when escaping to a light-hearted action-heavy movie such as RED. Too bad the acclaimed cast appears to be having all the fun. Malkovich easily has the most hysterical role, stealing scenes left and right, which helps to divert attention from the dreadful cover-up plot, the afterthought romance involving Victoria, Parker’s inability to convey any sort of believable reaction, and questions of probability – such as how a monstrous cannon on a tripod can be set up in the parking garage where the Vice President is campaigning, without attracting any attention by the hundreds of security team members scurrying about.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)