Sometimes it seems like every other movie opening this year at the multiplex is a comic throwback to ‘80s action movies or based on a graphic novel I wasn’t aware of before.
To its credit RED is both. But that’s the only credit I’ll give this unfunny overblown mess though.
RED is titled after the stamp on agent Frank Moses' (Bruce Willis) file, meaning "retired, extremely dangerous."
Willis leads a mundane life as a former Black Ops CIA agent who tears up his retirement checks just so he can continue to call customer service representative Mary Louise Parker because he has a crush on her.
Before you know it Willis is on the run from government assassins and he abducts Parker for the ride. She goes along with it in her typical jaded Weeds fashion, but the unbelievable and incredibly contrived nature of her role never convinces for a second.
Parker’s life before was boring and now she’s caught up in a world of espionage – I get it, but it’s such a cringing cliché with a capital C.
He re-unites his old crew – the all star cast of Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Ernest Borgnine and John Malkovich – to fight the attackers and it’s one shoot-em-up after another.
The film is solidly staged but it’s a joyless affair with really poorly written dialogue and a distinct lack of laughs.
At this point in Willis’s career it’s surprising he would be attracted to this boring by-the-numbers material.
Willis just sleep walks (sometimes in slow motion) through a barely interesting plot handled with a hodgepodge of styles and clashing tones. The narrative involves a cover-up of Guatemalan slayings orchestrated by the Vice President (Julian McMahon).
There’s some seriousness in the seams but it’s overshadowed by cloying silliness. It’s also off-putting that the film has an unbearable sense of self satisfaction.
Malkovich as a jacked up explosives expert appears to be having fun with his role, but with such lame one-liners (none of which I can remember or else I’d quote one) that feeling is far from contagious.
Freeman, who is 73, plays an 80 year old ex-agent – a role that requires no heavy lifting, just his patented homespun delivery. Borgnine is 93 and like Malkovich he’s seems to be having a good time. Maybe he’s just happy to be anywhere these days.
Then there’s Dame Helen Mirren in a white evening gown firing a machine gun. That’s supposed to be a hilarious image, but it creaks like everything else in this misguided movie.
Oh, and I shouldn’t forget Richard Dreyfuss, still channeling Dick Cheney from W, as a bad guy who is also saddled with lines that fall flat. “I did it for the money” Dreyfuss revealed in a recent interview.
It sure shows.
I saw somebody on a message board refer to this film as THE EXPENDABLES but with people who can actually act.” I can go with that because just like that Sylvester Stallone all star vehicle, this is ultimately a lame package.
RED, which I think should stand for Really Excruciating Drivel, is a waste every way you can cut it.