Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn


Dec. 26th, we caught up with “RED” (stands for “retired, extremely dangerous”). The movie stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich as overage CIA agents who find themselves on a “hit list” for unknown reasons. The initial assassination attempt on Frank Moses (Willis) gives “shooting your way in,” a whole new meaning. Frank’s younger civilian love interest (Mary-Louise Parker) gets roped in on the general principal she may have learned too much. The plot follows any number of similar films from “The 39 Steps” onward, as they run, escape, and eventually fight back as they unravel who is doing what to whom. Along the way, they acquire the help of old allies and opponents, former MI6 assassin Helen Mirren, and KGB rezidentura Brian Cox, and CIA records keeper Earnest Borgnine.

What enlivens the movie is the witty dialog, rife with juicy black humor, and intriguing action, which is very heavy on gunfire, but relatively light on bloodshed. (Much of the time, the protagonists are shooting it out with Federal agents who don’t know they are being used, and thus not to be lightly killed. Hired assassins, on the other hand, are another matter--.) The other thing that makes the film a standout is the relationships between the characters, which made Georgie describe it as the “holiday feel-good movie of the year.”

While Freeman’s character is described as having cancer, and Malkovich’s character was obviously retired on disability due to mental issues, it’s hard to understand why “Frank Moses” isn’t still working, since his reflexes, weapon skills, and situational awareness exceed those of younger men, and even several younger men, other than some bumf about mandatory retirement age, but it makes a good plot. It’s obvious that Moses hasn’t been off the payroll long, since we see him living in a new and barren house when the film opens.

The elder spies are well supported by their opponents, Karl Urban as agent Cooper who is assigned to “retire” Moses, and Rebecca Pidgeon as the ambitious ice queen who is his control. In interesting casting against type, Richard Dreyfuss, who started his movie career playing nice guys in Neil Simon comedies (and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) plays arms dealer Alexander Dunning, who is as nasty a character as anyone could wish for.
Highly recommended for fans of action, adventure, intrigue, shoot-em-ups, or of Willis, Freeman, Malkovich, or Mirren, all of whom have juicy roles. On the other hand, if you don’t like guns, don’t see it.

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Tags: action, guns, movies, spies
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