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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » October 29, 2010
Film review
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RED
October 29, 2010   
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The latest movie by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan) is a major disappointment, boasting an A-list cast whose chief task is to fool around at the expense of viewers.

Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren—who could resist them? Alas, RED is based on a series of popular comic books that seem to serve as an excuse for the absence of a solid script. Instead the film is a succession of incoherent scenes in which the characters pull faces, crack unfunny jokes and shoot from whatever weapons they can lay their hands on.

Frank Moses (Willis), a retired but fit CIA super agent, lives a mundane life whose only spark comes in conversations with Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker—Red Dragon, Weeds), a call center worker who handles Frank’s pension affairs. The two grow close—on the phone. Frank would love a meeting, but the opportunity that makes it happen is somewhat awkward when Frank’s house is raided by a squadron of assassins. Our hero is, naturally, bulletproof, but has to flee what is left of his suburban house and start a private investigation. Since Sarah is the only human being he talks to on a regular basis, Frank decides to kidnap her and turn her into his accomplice—all to protect her, of course.

In order to stand up to the unknown enemy, Frank rebuilds his old team of people which the CIA calls RED—short for Retired Extremely Dangerous. Frank’s first partner is Joe Matheson (Freeman), an 80-year-old retirement home resident with advanced liver cancer. Cancer or not, Joe is far from senile and has his way with guns, too. Then there is Marvin Boggs (Malkovich), an ex-agent whom the CIA experimentally fed LSD for 11 years. Marvin reveals his insanity in a secret hideaway, confident that spies and foes are everywhere—and surprisingly enough, he is usually right.

The hunt for Frank and Sarah is being coordinated by William Cooper (Karl Urban—Lord of the Rings, The Bourne Supremacy) whose employers turn out to be big shots in the U.S. administration and the CIA. Team Frank has no other way than to turn to a most unlikely ally in Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox—Troy, X-Men 2), an espionage resident at the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. Once a super enemy, Ivan is now a jovial elderly gentleman who treats Frank to cold vodka and sheds a tear or two reminiscing on the good old days and agents switching sides. He has a personal reason to join in Frank’s plan, hoping to renew his relationship with Victoria (Mirren), another of Frank’s friends. A former assassin, Victoria now runs a quiet hotel, but likes to dip back into her old profession from time to time. In her days as a British MI-6 agent, Victoria dated Ivan, but then her bosses predictably ordered her to eliminate the inconvenient boyfriend. “I knew she loved me when she shot me three times in the chest. Otherwise, she would have aimed for the head,” Ivan fondly recalls over a glass of vodka.

The select team have a simple plan: find out who is responsible for their trouble, kill them all—including the American vice-president—and then retire once more to live happily ever after. Only viewers who endure the movie’s 111 minutes will know which of the characters succeed.
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