Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring||Bruce Willis (Frank Moses), Mary-Louise Parker Parker (Sarah Ross), Karl Urban (William Cooper), Morgan Freeman (Joe Matheson), Helen Mirren (Victoria), John Malkovich (Marvin Boggs), Brian Cox (Ivan Simanov), Richard Dreyfuss (Alexander Dunning), Ernest Borgnine (Henry, The Records Keeper), Julian McMahon (Robert Stanton), See all »|
|Director||Robert Schwentke—“The Time Traveler’s Wife”|
|Producer||Summit Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures, DC Entertainment, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, See all »|
“Still armed. Still dangerous. Still got it.”
Sequel to this movie: RED 2 (2013)
If you are a Bruce Willis fan, like I am, you will be in movie bliss watching “RED.” He is definitely in his element, playing an ex-CIA operative who knows how to out-think, out-shoot, and out-wit virtually any enemy. Add to that an inspired cast full of top notch actors and cameos that is almost as much fun as the script itself, and you are guaranteed an adventure comedy shoot-em-up to be enjoyed.
“RED” which stands for “Retired Extremely Dangerous” in fictitious CIA code, is an adventure/romantic comedy loosely based on the three-issue graphic novel mini-series from illustrator Cully Hamner and writer Warren Ellis published in 2003 and 2004.
Far lighter than the comic on which it is based, the movie is a fun bit of popcorn entertainment, with a much fuller plot and character base than the original novel.
Of course, there are two ways to consider this movie experience. First, from the side of a Christian with a family to think about as you go into the theater, know that this is an action piece with heavy CIA, FBI, and espionage peril. There is lots, and I mean LOTS, of gun fire and near comic book violence in “RED.” It is all trumped up for visual show (one scene where the bullet casings are as deep as an embankment covered with snow) and is not at all realistic, but still it is unrelenting at times, and chaotic to say the least. Second, the other side of the coin is, it’s a lot of fun to watch. If you are an adult who enjoys movies the likes of “Oceans Eleven” and “Space Cowboys,” you are in for a treat.
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired, deep cover CIA agent who is just doing the ghost-like walk of his retirement. Bored and, at some times, numb to his life, he engages in phone conversations with his pension services representative, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who is his only source of sunshine. On the eve of traveling to Kansas City to meet her in person, Frank discovers he is the target of a government “hit.”
After narrowly escaping with his life, he kidnaps the unsuspecting Sarah, to save her life, of course, and gathers together his old gang of assassins and spies to track down those who are seeking not just his life, but the lives of every agent assigned to a covert operation from an assignment in Guatemala back in 1981. Starting with the reporter who unearthed the operation, every person she spoke to on the list has either turned up dead or is up next.
In a chase that spans the globe from Chesapeake Bay to Pensacola, Florida, New York to Moldova, Russia, Frank and his just-as-dangerous also retired pards, Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich), Ivan (Brian Cox), and Victoria (Helen Mirren), stay just ahead of relentless CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) to unravel the mystery as to why they are being targeted for the kill.
They soon find that the lethal string-puller is a sniveling industrialist (Richard Dreyfuss) using the CIA as “his own personal hit squad.” He, also, happens to have the Vice-President in his back pocket, okaying every hit.
Romance is the underlying theme, as Frank and Sarah begin to fall in love throughout this hair raising romp and the crew of fellow retired agents give their sage advice on courtship.
The rating of PG-13, for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language, is borderline. I feel it should be bumped up to R, even though there are no sex scenes in this film, the comic violence is not for small children or “tweens,” no matter the PG-13 rating. I must say I was surprised that the show of blood was minimal, accept for a scene where Cooper and Moses really fight it out hard and one where Victoria is accidentally shot and the blood is shown seeping through her white dress.
There are, also, instances of a hanged man, a character getting blown up, and another where a character is flamed to death with a fire cannon. There are numerous references to people being on drugs, punched, killed, tortured or shot. Although most deaths are not actually displayed on screen, there is no doubt that people are being killed in battle. Nevertheless, the references there, even though meant to be comic, may still be traumatic for kids under the age of 16.
Brief strong language is just that, brief. I was also surprised that in an action film geared to violence, no matter how comic it may be portrayed, the foul language was kept relatively low. 2 sh*t, one utterance of bastards, hell (8), d*mn (5), “my a**,” 2 utterances of “Christ,” “G*d d*mn (2), “Oh my G*d” (2), and one “f-u” thrown in for good measure, I suppose. There were way more tongue-in-cheek references to sex and the way characters of this genre speak such as mentions of nipples, hard-ons, balls, nuts, and potty trainer.
There are positive elements, if you look past the comedy and allow them to take hold, of the beauty of lasting friendships. No matter how long those friends had not seen one another, they still are willing to help one another out. Do not overlook the Christ-like fact that one character gave his life to save the rest. That love does not have to start with a physical relationship. The fact that Frank and Sarah got to know one another just by spending time talking over the phone for months, was a way to relate that knowing someone’s heart first is the best way to begin a relationship.
So be warned of this film’s limit-pushing PG-13 violence, that turns uncomfortably dark in several places and relies on bullet-spraying overkill to get from point a to point b. That said, I felt that “RED” is a smart, fast-moving, adult comedy with a great musical score, stellar cast and script. Bruce Willis brings his uber-relaxed authority back to the screen for yet another terrific performance. If you are a Christian who enjoys this genre of film and can get past some of the violence, you will have a great time experiencing “RED.”
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sexual talk: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.