{2jtab: Movie Review}

Red Movie Review


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4 stars

Retirement is a joy for most.  It’s something the common person looks forward to, plans for and usually loves every minute of.  Imagine doing nothing all day long.  Absolutely nothing.  What could possibly be dull about that?  RED, directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan and The Time Traveler’s Wife), explores the subject with the same amount of joy as those who experience it have, yet pulls ‘Extremely Dangerous’ out of its comical bag of tricks to give the idea of ‘Retirement’ a refreshingly original and unusually feisty cinematic spin.

Inspired by the graphic novel of the same name written by Warren Ellis and artist Cully Hamner, RED – if you’ve seen the hysterically over-the-top trailer featuring Academy Award winner Helen Mirren toting, rather brilliantly, a machine gun – is exactly what it proclaims to be: lighthearted, action-heavy, and full of madcap fun.  It’s just this side of anarchy – maybe playing it a bit too safe at times – but an honest step in the right direction as the cinematic year begins to wind itself down.  Equal parts The A-Team and The Losers with a healthy dose of age and muscle ala The Expendables thrown in, RED doesn’t disappoint in its mischievous tone, which is certainly a tip of the hat to its director for maintaining control of the story.

RED features a series of brazenly sharp and pitch-perfect performances from its cast.  Bruce Willis, looking remarkably better than he has in years, is certainly comfortable wearing the vintage blues of a lonely Frank Moses, a former Black-ops maestro who finds his heartstrings plucked by the quirky nature of Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a benefits pension worker he flirts with – all PG and shy-like - over the phone.  Anything to keep him waking up to face the day, right?  Parker’s wide-eyed charm throughout the picture is a perfect foil for Willis’ cool-as-a-cucumber (even if an avocado is more appropriate here) approach to the hellfire surrounding him…and eventually her (as she unknowingly becomes more and more involved in the type of espionage romances she used to only read about).

Turns out a whole bunch of important somebody’s in the CIA – with all leads pointing toward Richard Dreyfuss (hamming it up in the role of villain a bit too much) - want Frank and his retired co-operatives 100% dead because of information they know surrounding the Vice President.  Their targets are nursing-home native Joe (Morgan Freeman), paranoid conspiracy theorist Marvin (John Malkovich who nearly steals the picture with his childlike paranoia), the Russian bear of an agent turned companion Ivan (Brian Cox) and classy – especially with an automatic weapon - Victoria (Helen Mirren).  This cast is exceptional and they know exactly how to play to the camera with a bubbly charm that is both stealthy and hilarious.

CIA operative Cooper (Karl Urban) has been assigned to find Frank and “bring him in”, yet he doesn’t quite understand why.  Nor does he bother to ask.  His “I-Can-Do-It” attitude in finding Frank and his cohorts is chilling, more so after he gets some deadly inside information from records keeper Ernest Borgnine.  His cat-and-mouse chase comes to a well-boiled head during a rollicking office fight scene that is as violent as it is brutally clever; a close-quarters fight scene that won’t give you a headache with its overuse of the “shaky” camera.  And when Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle” kicks in with dynamic energy, matching the on-screen brawl, it’ll be hard to keep that smile from forming.

Screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber expand on the world of the graphic novel, but don’t lose the anarchic spirit or sense of “fun” that the movie develops.  Nor does its director, whose filmography suggests otherwise, lose control or focus of the on-screen action.  While RED is over-the-top in some circumstances, the film plays it safe with the amount of gore and violence it displays, which makes that office scene so memorable.  It also seems to run a bit out of steam plot-wise towards the end as Dreyfuss chomps his Scooby Doo villain-like scenery, but the cast covers for that shortcoming well enough to make this film nothing less than a genuine crowd pleaser.

RED, with its clever “postcard” transitions and lively cast, remains centered as a cheeky action flick with a killer sense of humor.  It definitely won’t leave you seeing…ehem…red.


{2jtab: Film Info}

Red Movie blu-ray reviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language.
Director: Robert Schwentke
: John Hoeber
Cast: John Malkovich; Helen Mirren; Bruce Willis
Genre: Action | Comedy
Tagline: Still Armed. Still Dangerous. Still Got It.
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Official Site:
Memorable Movie Quote: "I remember the CIA being tougher."
Release Date: October 15, 2010.
Blu-ray Release Date:
January 25, 2011.

Synopsis: Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIA’s top agents – but the secrets they know just made them the Agency’s 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

{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Red - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 25, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, Spanish
English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Pretty much flawless MPEG-4 AVC encode; the picture never wavers through the myriad of locations and times of day. Flesh tones are natural; some of the garish costumes pop out of the screen and the action scenes/explosions are a spectacle to behold. The sound is equally impressive. Special features include a picture in picture supplemental that is pretty exhaustive, commentary and deleted scenes. Not bad.



  • Feature-length audio commentary track with retired CIA field officer Robert Baer, who served as an advisor on the film.

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 9 minutes)
  • Access: Red - As the movie plays, written facts pertaining to various aspects of 'Red' and featurettes pop up in isolated windows under such headings as "Did You Know?," "Damage Control," "Retired Hall of Fame," "CIA Exposed," "Cast Insights," and "Expert Intel." There's also an audio commentary pop-up from ex-CIA agent Baer that's excerpted from his full-length commentary.


{2jtab: Trailer}