|Despite an all-star cast, ‘Red’ not worth seeing in theaters|
|Written by Brandon James Smith, Daily Vidette Features Editor|
|Wednesday, 20 October 2010 21:50|
The bad news about the action-comedy “Red” is that it is highly unoriginal, extremely predictable and, while boasting an all-star cast as well as glimpses of wittiness worthy of a Coen Brothers film, ultimately falls flat after the first half. The good news is…I haven’t had the chance to rip apart a movie for a while.
So, I will break this film down into three acts: Start with the positives, point out its clichéd flaws and then eventually destroy it. Incidentally, this is exactly how the three acts of “Red” play out in the theatre.
Based on the three-issue graphic novel by DC Comics, “Red” stars the always lovable Bruce Willis as a retired CIA agent (Retired and Extremely Dangerous, get it?) named Francis. Anyway, the film begins clever, funny and intriguing. Willis is lonely and has trouble adapting to everyday civilian life. His few moments of excitement these days come by talking on the phone and flirting with a customer service agent (Mary-Louise Parker) at his pension office.
Willis rips up his pension checks just so he can call Parker and have an excuse to talk to her. It’s really kind of sweet, not to mention humorous. Parker plays her role as quirky but equally interested in Willis, and they have true chemistry, which makes this movie fun and filled with potential at first. Alas, this is just the beginning 10 minutes of the film. Then, of course, the CIA suddenly attempts to kill Willis in his home in a ridiculous, far-fetched and way over-the-top scene.
At first, Willis is not sure why his former employers are trying to kill him, but he knows that they’re going to try and kill Parker as well so he kidnaps her. This scene is funny and the film still has its charm going on at this point. However, it is also at this point where I first started to become confused and angry.
Why would the CIA assassinate a telephone operator who Willis has never met, nor divulged any secrets to? Oh, that’s right, because the writers needed a reason to include a non-CIA character and love interest along for the ride. Basically, it’s lazy and contrived.
Okay, now the story has progressed into the second act. This is where the audience gets to meet Willis’s other ‘RED’ friends, which, they find, are also being targeted. These friends include Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and ISU alum John Malkovich.
Malkovich, as he so often does, steals several of the scenes with his offbeat, goofy performance as a paranoid ex-CIA operative. Covered in camouflage and feathers, he lives in a bunker, convinced the world is trying to kill him. This time, he happens to be right.
Helen Mirren is another scene-stealer, as a sweet former CIA operative who loves arranging flowers and has no problem killing people. She fell in love once, she says, and then put three bullets in his chest. Her best line comes while talking to Parker when she says, “In all the years I’ve known Francis, I’ve never seen him like this…so if you break his heart, I will kill you and bury your body in the woods.” I have to admit, I laughed out loud.
The film is part “Ocean’s 11,” part every cliché action movie ever made. Willis plays yet another caricature of his former roles. As a wisecracking, good-hearted tough guy, this role is nothing new to him. In fact, the whole film is nothing new; it becomes so painfully predictable that as a viewer I just lost interest after the initial 45 minutes. I knew what was going to happen, how it was going to happen and quite frankly, was just waiting for it to be over.
“Red” isn’t a terrible film, it’s just the kind of movie that will one day be played on TBS way too often. It’s fun to watch a few minutes here and there while lying around on a Saturday afternoon, but it’s not something people are going to buy. Avoid the theatres with this one as I have officially deemed it ‘TBS worthy.’
The charm and chemistry between it’s talented cast bumps “Red” up from awful to mediocre, worthy of a mediocre rating. I suppose that’s what bothers me the most about “Red.” After the first 20 minutes, I predicted I would give this film a rating of four stars. Throughout the next hour my rating went down to three. The boring, final half hour lost it another half-star. Then there was the final five minutes, which included a stupid, stale and dreadful final ‘sum up’ scene Director Robert Schwentke should have left on the cutting room floor.