Deftly mixing action, humor, and a romantic heart, Red delivers a rollicking fun time at the cinema, especially for those older in body but still young in spirit.
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired CIA agent in a suburban neighborhood where the only excitement in his life entails ripping up his retirement checks so he has an excuse to call his thrill-seeking customer service agent, Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker).
When a special-ops team invades his home in a failed attempt to kill him, Frank seeks out some of his old colleagues, with Sarah in tow, for help in uncovering the plot against his life. This quirky set of characters includes a randy nursing home inmate (Morgan Freeman), an uber-paranoid lunatic who lives in a swamp (John Malkovich), and a refined, professional homemaker who was one of the CIA's most lethal assassins (Helen Mirren).
Based on a comic book series of the same name, Jon and Erich Hoeber's screenplay contains several cartoonishly violent action sequences and some strong, offensive language, earning the film its PG-13 rating. The screenwriters never attempt to do more than entertain their audience, interlacing exciting action scenes with well-timed humor, all wrapped around a retiree who just wants to live a normal life and his often ham-handed attempts to woo a woman who just wants some adventure to spice up her life.
What pushes this film slightly above B-movie level is the amazing cast of award winners director Robert Schwentke has to work with and the solid performances he gets from each of them. Between Mirren (The Queen), Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl), and Ernest Borgnine (Marty), they have enough Oscar gold to plate their own yellow-brick road to Oz. There are also the Emmy-award-winning Malkovich (Death of a Salesman) and Willis (Moonlighting), and the Tony-award-winning Parker (Proof).
Award-winning material this film is not, but as a reasonably entertaining two-hour diversion with a group of old pros, it hits the mark.
-Michael Leaser is editor of FilmGrace and an associate of The Clapham Group