Directed by Robert Schwentke (2009’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife”), “Red” is based on a three-part DC Comics graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. There are no superheroes on hand, though one might suspect otherwise after watching Frank and his cohorts perform some fancy stuntwork with their high-powered weaponry. Before the pyrotechnics go down, the film opens as a closely observed character story about Frank’s struggle to slow down and get a life after years of dedicating himself to his profession. Screenwriters Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber (2009’s “Whiteout”) bring a welcome sense of humor to these early scenes and also strike hot in the over-the-phone flirtations between Frank and Sarah. Had things continued to center on these two even after their lives come under fire, “Red” might have proved to be something special. Instead, their snappy interplay fades into the background as the rest of his CIA co-workers are introduced and then are given little of note to do. In fact, virtually all character shades are dulled as the forgettable, drawn-out climax—alternately too talky and too chaotic—pushes the running time toward the two-hour mark…read more [WorstPreviews]
Smirks meet semi-automatics in “Red,” a comics-derived action flick that offers self-conscious casting and a wink here and there without feeling as jokey as, say, “Knight and Day.” Although tailor-made for genre fans, it benefits from flavors of humor and romance that keep its appeal from being fanboy-only.
The pic makes the most of its premise, in which valuable CIA operatives must return to action after having settled, or not, into various stages of retirement. Some take to it comically (Morgan Freeman’s Joe, subversive in an old-age home) and some pragmatically, while Bruce Willis’ Frank sits alone in intrigue-free suburbia, making up reasons to call a help-desk operator (Mary-Louise Parker) whose sassy-sweet voice has become the entirety of his social life…read more [THR]
This movie is utterly inconsequential, but that’s exactly what it’s aiming for. The writing provides plenty of opportunities to let loose and have some fun, with almost all of the leads playing variations of characters they’ve depicted on screen before. Freeman and Willis fell right back into their natural chemistry from Lucky Number Slevin, almost as if they never left that film’s set. Malkovich was perfectly crazy, striking just the right balance of slapstick and insanity. And as the action comedy equivalent of Betty White, it was surprisingly exhilarating to see Helen Mirren (notable for playing traditional, serious roles) brazenly fire automatic weapons until all of the cartridges were spent. And Mary-Louise Parker played the “Cameron Diaz in Knight and Day” part with such effortless charm and humor that I was instantly enamored with her…read more [Filmonic]
Chief among the pleasures of Red, a sleek, giant-scale action picture populated by formidable actors, is the sight of Helen Mirren, elegantly dressed in a form-fitting white dress, firing away on a gigantic machine gun that makes a noise as loud as thunder, her expression a combination of concentration and conviction. Woe to him who foolishly stands within her crosshairs. Her target in that scene? The Vice President of the United States.
Red, which has been adapted with style and wit by director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife) from the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, excels at bringing on the high-power pyrotechnics. There’s a terrific, tactile thrill in an early sequence in which Bruce Willis’ home is sprayed by bullets from assassins’ guns that are so powerful, they knock down the entire front wall of his house. As an orchestrator of shoot-’em-up mayhem, Schwentke is the anti-Michael Bay – he directs large, complicated setpieces in which you can always follow the action clearly and you always know where every character stands in relation to the others. He’s helped considerably by the fact that his four leads – Willis, Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman as former CIA black-ops agents forced out of retirement … are often the ones doing the shooting and trading quips between reloads…read more [miami.com]
Bruce Willis plays Frank, ex-CIA now living in Cleveland, where he whittles away the days in a snowbound modest suburban home. Willis doesn’t have the deep-felt sadness of the comic’s grizzled, deeply wrinkled eccentric who just wishes to be left alone; his Frank is more John McClane in early retirement, a dude secretly itching to get back in the killin’ bidness. When the bloodthirsty, barrels-blazing Men in Black come calling at 3:30 in the morning, Frank’s wide awake and ready for them—the alarm clock’s gone off, time to get back to work.
And so Frank begins his trudge across America to get the band back together again and find out what the what is going on. First stop is Kansas City, home of the government retirement-check-sending drone Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), with whom Frank’s had a longtime phone relationship. She loves her trashy spy novels, then, lo and behold, she’s living one: When Frank shows up, he brings with him tagalong assassins who think the two are in cahoots—and their long-scheduled date becomes a hostage crisis. Parker is Red’s version of Justin Long—the sidekick intended to young up a movie that pit-stops in a New Orleans retirement home, where Morgan Freeman’s Joe spends his time ogling nurses’ asses as they adjust the TV antenna…read more [VillageVoice]
There’s a trite quote you can read in barber shops attributed to Abraham Lincoln, you know the one, about pleasing some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time? Robert Schwentke and the producers of Red obviously don’t buy that. Red, while hardly a masterpiece, is that most rare of objects, a movie that a divergent group of friends can settle on and no one will have any room to gripe. It is here to entertain us, all of us, and does a good job of it. Anyone who comes away focusing on the things that don’t quite add up rather than the moments of giddy joy clearly needs to reevaluate their philosophy of life…read more [UGO]
Once seen, never forgotten, the experience of looking on as Helen Mirren lets loose with a machine gun is the equivalent of watching the queen of England lay waste to a crowd of unruly commoners. It’s also the only aspect of “Red” that satisfies as it should.
RED is an acronym for “Retired Extremely Dangerous,” a group of former CIA agents who have been sent out to pasture in favor of younger, presumably deadlier, government operatives. But a series of circumstances gets them back in the game and, guess what, they haven’t so much as lost a step…read more [LA Times]
Opens: Friday, Oct. 15 (Summit)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, Julian McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss
Director: Robert SchwentkeScreenwriters: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Based on the graphic novel by: Warren Ellis, Cully Hamner
Rated PG-13, 110 minutes
Red Video Review