Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Red (2010)

RED
DIRECTED BY: ROBERT SCHWENTKE
WRITTEN BY: JON & ERICH HOEBER
GRAPHIC NOVEL BY: WARREN ELLIS & CULLY HAMMER
OVERALL SCORE: 6.50/10

When a hit squad is sent to the house of former CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), he teams up with former black-ops members from around the world, and his first real crush Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), to find out whose behind it all.

"Old man my ass."

Red is an entertaining action, thriller, that suffers the most common mistake of its genre: a collection of good ideas and scenes, string together by an incredibly thin plot, and overly generic characters. Leaving Red to be just another one of the films where everything plays out exactly like one would expect it to. Never leaving the viewer with a sense of suspense, or surprise. It forces itself to rely on over the top action sequences, and characters to carry the weight.

Cox, Freeman, and Parker all turn in solid performances given their archetype characters. Malkovich brings in the fun ten times over. While Mirren is able to sexy it up a bit. Leaving Karl Urban and Bruce Willis to really battle for the emotional pull of the audience. Something the two do very well considering they generally play cliches, not heartfelt characters.

Perhaps leading to the more surprising aspect of Red being its honest care for the characters. We learn a bit about their past, how their years in the CIA have torn them emotionally. The realization that the only people they know in the world they fought tooth and nail against only 10 years prior. The bond that creates between them, and the consequences of it.

It should be stated now, rather that's what it aims to do. Often hinting at it, giving each character a good moment or two to reflect, Red speeds through these scenes with the same pace as an action scene. Opting to spend most of the time on the events leading to the next fight. Occasionally bothering to tap into the Willis-Parker romantic relationship (which I feel the film really misses on from Parker's point of view).

Still, Red is one of those films that's just fun to watch. It plucks at the emotional strings, but only enough to get you invested. From there on action, and silliness, take over. Some work better than others, some relationships feel more right than others. It may not win any awards for originality, or suspense, but it earns them for being straight entertainment from start to finish.

What Red lacks in creativity and surprises it makes up for in characters and zany action sequences. It'll seldom shock, but always aims to entertain. In that respect it fulfills all the criteria necessary for a good time out with friends.

4 better thoughts:

Yojimbo_5 said...

Yeah, you're right, it's entertaining and all, but...meh. When one character reveals his medical history, you just know he won't be sticking around for the credits, and the tacked-on ending feels desperate, as if they wanted the audience walking out thinking they'd seen more action than they had. Mirren's a trooper, though, Willis has the stick out of his butt, Urban plays a nice Wile. E. Coyote, and Malkovich? He should do more comedy. But, the film left me cold. It's a meal of ingredients, not cooking.

Simon said...

Predictable, kind of...one of those movies you see for the actors working with the concept, not for the concept itself. Or the writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like mindless fun. Everyone's said Malkovich's performance makes the movie.

Univarn said...

@Yojimbo I admire them for wanting the movie to be more about the characters, but they could have definitely handled it a lot better. I think Urban did fine, but his character got lost in the changes he keeps making throughout. Meticulous -> Rash -> Emotional -> Family Man -> Questioning most of these transitions seemingly occur off camera as we only hop in for 1 on them, the rest just come and go.

Though I do love your cooking analogy. Mind if I steal it from you in the future, pass it off as my own, and claim it a display of my own intelligence? :P I kid I kid, I always cite myself.

@Simon For me the writing felt overly aware of the potential, and felt a need to tackle every possibility at least once. Unfortunately it makes for a very scattered viewing.

@AlexJ I'd say it is. Malkovich is great, but all of his best scenes are way over featured in the trailers.

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