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A 2010 film adaptation of the comic book of the same name.

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Humor and performances keep "Red" from losing all of its flare.

  • Mar 28, 2011
**1/2 out of ****

"Red" is best known as "The Expendables", but with old people, as well as being a whole lot more entertaining and closer to being worth watching. Alas, I will not say that "Red" is a "good" film, but it is by no means a bad one. It is a fun film, as long as you can get past the crappy advertising (which makes the film out to be a sort of consistent shoot-'em-up action film, which it isn't) and the action movie clichés that come with it. "Red" is overall a package, a decent one, at most. At least, it can get a bit boring, and it lacks a certain amount of ambition. But the film has its charms, and it also has a wonderful cast. Come on, you know you love Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and even Helen Mirren. Some actors- in this film- are more entertaining and quirky than others, but this is a film with a cast so talented that you just can't give it a pass. There will be supporters of "Red", and then there will be "the critics". I for one am neither, and I somewhat tend to linger somewhere in the middle. I do not mind "Red", and in many ways I did enjoy it, but it misses goodness due to its many flaws. I suppose that part of it was my expectations. It's good to know that I enjoyed this little movie, bit-by-bit, after I was warned of its inconsistency in the action department. Yes, "Red" is an action film, if only because there is no other genre that it could properly belong to, but it's not quite as explosive as the premise suggests. But that is merely the bad half, and in this case, I tend to try to overlook that large portion. I admit that "Red" was funny, witty, and often clever. It's not a classic action-comedy, but it gets the job done, and I can definitely admire that. To call the film a success would be saying too much good when regarding the film, while calling it a disappointment would be saying too little of it. Yes, this film is somewhat of a recommendation. It's not the best action-comedy out there, but I admire the feel and look of the film as well as the performances and the often whacky sense of humor. I can dig it, if only mildly. And that's good enough for me.

The film opens by introducing us to a character- a typical tough-guy named Frank Moses. He is a former CIA Agent who has, along with his other former CIA Agents, since retired from his duties. He now lives alone, and nearly friendless. We are shown how his boredom consumes him, and how he, like the rest of his old friends, desires some bat-shit crazy violence for once. And he's bound to get it. So Moses goes to visit a woman he has been talking to recently, but only over the phone. He kidnaps her, and throws her in the middle of a grand scheme to prevent the Vice President from being assassinated. Of course, this is a typical action film plot, but there are some twists yet to come. I think what makes "Red" less generic and more entertaining than it perhaps needs to be is the fact that the film itself is not particularly well-written, but in some ways, the characters sure are. We like these characters, even if some lack depth, due to their personalities. Moses is calm, collected, but internally destructive in a number of ways. The girl he has taken interest in is like him, but more eccentric and definitely new to the whole assassination thing. Then come the other "Retired, Extremely Dangerous" FORMER CIA Agents. There is Joe, who is an old man living in a retirement home. Then there's the particularly quirky Marvin, who is a whacked-out-of-his-mind sort of guy. He is particularly fun to watch. There is also Ivan; a man who is given little proper background in the story. And finally, there is Victoria; who many men would lust after solely for her combat skills. The team of action heroes is being hunted by some lesser interesting folk who plan to foil their strategy. This leaves absolutely no surprises when it comes to the story. I have a problem with that, as I always do, but in many ways I can get past a lot of what is "wrong" with "Red". It is a breezy, fun, and to some, overlong ride which is alas not as intense or interesting as some people may hope. I appreciate it, and in many ways I support it for its charm and wit. But beware, it's not a film with much big guns blazing. It is a film about planning and talking rather than riotous violence. I admire that at least somewhat, and therefore, I can certainly admire "Red".

The film has an appealing cast. Older film critics will know most of the stars, while there are also some "newer" actors to please the other half of this film's target audience. Bruce Willis leads his dynamic team of killers. Willis is almost always charming as his bald, bad-ass self. I know that Willis has more talent than this, but this is a nice break from the blandness that the actor displayed in the highly mediocre "Surrogates". This is the better performance of the two. I like to think that John Malkovich should come next on this semi-long list of performers, since he is also the best of them all. While Malkovich is not given as much screen-time as he probably deserves, he's a real hoot to watch whenever he is on-screen. He's a typical show-stealer, and he's actually pretty entertaining to watch. Helen Mirren puts on a particularly eccentric performance as a bad-ass woman behind a machine gun. That will be a guilty pleasure for fans of Mirren, and it's probably going to be the same for just about anyone who likes seeing old woman get down and dirty with weaponry. Sure, it's not original to have the woman be badder than you would expect. But Mirren makes it work here. Morgan Freeman also "stars" in this film, but is often treated as if he is in a bigger role than he is actually in. Freeman isn't given a whole lot of screen-time, and even while there is a reason behind that, I would have admired his contribution more if he was IN the film more. But I still like what the cast is doing for this film, and that's a surprisingly high amount of things. It's a quirky and charming cast; one of the many perks to watching "Red".

"Red" is a nice, slightly tame PG-13 action film that delivers on most of what it promises. While the trailers do suggest more loud violence than the film cares to feature, you do get your money's-worth of thrills and charm. When the film isn't actiony, it is being rather funny. The dialogue isn't incredibly creative half of the time, but there's still some intelligent, or often goofy jokes thrown in for added effect. The film is admittedly not what it seems, but if you can establish that, then you'll know what to expect from the film. I just don't want people to be confused or disappointed with the lack of consistent explosions and action scenes. Somehow, I think this is kind of better for the film; it makes more time for the acting and humor to shine. However, the film is not great, and it's not even particularly good. But one thing "Red" is not is bad; I actually think it's quite entertaining. Some will be furious through their disappointment. Some will therefore hate the film. But if you take the time to see what this film is trying to do, and what it accomplishes, than you may actually appreciate the product. "Red" had the power to entertain me, perhaps more than most action films can. It's not "Kick-Ass", and it's not as good as "The Losers", but "Red" is entertaining in many ways. It looks good, and feels good; as all "new" movies should. It's a shame that most don't care, and get boring really, really fast. This is not one of those films. And therefore, "Red" is forgiven.

I may have expected a bit too much, initially, when I pondered watching "Red". The trailers were indeed misleading, so I heard, but I for one am glad that I finally saw the film. Yes, the experience was worth it. "Red" is essentially nothing special, but at least it makes an attempt. This is undeniably the kind of attempt that most action movies either don't make or can't reach. "Red" does not go wild, and it's not a classic. In fact, it's far from one. But it's a fun movie if you can get past its many, many flaws; and I kind of enjoyed myself for the most part. There are some boring, disappointing moments, but "Red" is slyer, funnier, and much better than it probably has the right to be. With the charming cast, solid direction, and good ambition on display here; I would say that "Red" is neither a "see" nor a "miss". I think it depends on how you feel about the action genre, as well as how accepting you are of change. This is change, not in a particularly good way, but not in a bad one either. Sometimes, I admit that it's nice to see someone try something new. And "Red" could have been a really great film- with it being inspired by a comic book- but the film is alas not quite good because the comic does not exactly leap off from the pages and onto the screen. Good comic book movies can do that. Great ones can do it with ease. "Red" almost doesn't feel like a comic-book movie at all, and rather feels like a big, fat, admittedly clichéd but undeniably fun Hollywood action-comedy that delivers on the laughs as well as some of the thrills. I appreciate "Red". I just don't think I will remember it.

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March 29, 2011
This had more meat than the source material, albeit it strayed from the original tone and mood. I liked this one; but as you've said: ""Red" almost doesn't feel like a comic-book movie at all, and rather feels like a big, fat, admittedly clichéd but undeniably fun Hollywood action-comedy that delivers on the laughs as well as some of the thrills". well said!
More RED reviews
review by . October 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ Stars:
Let’s cut to the chase; Hollywood has been milking the comic book genre for everything it’s worth with adaptations with more misses than actual hits nowadays. So it is no surprise that a movie adaptation of Warren Ellis’ and Cully Hamner’s 3-issue limited series would be adapted for the big screen. Director Robert Schwentke‘s “RED” is based on the comic mini-series by Homage publications (a division of DC-Vertigo) and takes a different tone than the mini-series. …
review by . January 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It started off "cowboy" style and hilarious to a certain degree. It's not what my idea of Bruce Willis is. It's kinda fun watching this movie, from the beginning to the end. From Kansas City to New Orleans to Alabama, he took his "gal" gagged around different cities. Isn't that something?         Then there is Morgan Freeman, well, this movie is certainly packed with heavyweights! John Malkovich joins in the fun and off they go trying …
review by . January 04, 2011
You know how I said in my Psycho review that making horror films is a lost art? Well, I say the same thing about action films. I think a definite thing that has to do with the downfall of action is the fact that Schwartzenegger and Stallone have gotten old. A great action film has to have great action, but a good story and acting as well. True Lies for example: it still has great action and Arnold kicking ass, but it has a story and okay acting to go with it. But Red is different than most action …
review by . March 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Quite refreshing for us older folks
   I can't speak for anyone else but I'm getting pretty damned tired of seeing 20 somethings on tv and in movies who are supposed to be doctors, lawyers, etc. They aren't even old enough to be done with college!      That, I'll admit, was one of the main things I liked about the movie "RED". Everyone in it was over 40, and looked like they actually had the mileage to have been a covert operative. HOW REFRESHING!      The …
review by . November 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
On paper RED seems too good to be true. The idea of classic actors of comedy, drama, and action like Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman teaming up for a film is like a movie version of an eclipse. The film follows Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired CIA agent that lives a pretty boring life. In the first 10 minutes of the film we get to see the biggest extent of his “exciting life”, the highest point of his day being a toss up between putting a single snowman decoration in his yard for …
review by . October 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It’s hard to make a good action film. It’s even harder to make a good comedy. And it’s harder still to tell a story that will not only entertain audiences, but also keep them intrigued. Not only does “Red” successfully achieve all three, it also manages to house it within the context of a graphic novel, a notoriously fanboy-exclusive genre. Fanboys will certainly appreciate this film, but so, I believe, will general audiences; apart from being a fun, thrilling comedy …
review by . October 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
When Mirren grabs that Browning or an MP5, you better be scared.
2010 has been quite a year for odd action movies. We had The Expendables about a super group of action movie stars who save the world and later Machete where grizzled Danny Trejo kicks butt just North of the border with camp and panache. Red comes in following the destruction left in those movie's wake and if it had been released at the same time, it easily would have been lost in the shuffle.      Red in the title means Retired, Extremely Dangerous and that sums up Frank …
review by . October 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 1/2 stars:They may be old, but they can still kick your ass!
  We are  already half way through the year and that means we are    already half way through the movie season, now I have pretty much seen all the major releases that have come out this year   some great like  "The Social Network",  "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps", "Brooklyn's Finest" , "Salt". "She's Out of my League",  "Inception", "Ghost Writer" and many more. What has …
review by . October 18, 2010
RED is the action-comedy about a small group of retired CIA field operatives (Retired, Extremely Dangerous…R.E.D.) who are targeted for elimination by nefarious government groups and must team up to fight off the threat and reveal the culprit.     RED is a silly but very fun movie. It is the sort of movie that would not work, however, if we didn't already have pretty strong impressions and feelings about its stars. If we didn't already think of Helen Mirren as the classy actress …
Quick Tip by . October 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Retired assassins and CIA agents get together to help save a young woman's life while uncovering a conspiracy afoot. Fun action and novelty of seeing an older guard pick up guns and start blasting.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


  • Opens October 22, 2010
  • Frank Moses, a former black-ops CIA agent, is now living a quiet life. That is, until the day a hi-tech assassin shows up intent on killing him. With his secret identity compromised and his love interest in danger, Frank must reassemble his old team to figure out who is out to get them.
  • Cast: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich
  • Director: Robert Schwentke
  • Genres: Thriller
  • Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, RED is an action-comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.

    Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIAs top agents but the secrets they know just made them the Agencys top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.
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    Genre: Action, Adventure
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Screen Writer: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
    Studio: Summit Entertainment
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