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RED (2010)

>> Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Old man, my ass!" - Marvin Boggs

Alright. Time for some movie trivia. What do you get when you put Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich in a movie? You get a very lazy intro for my movie review of Red. You also get something that is surprisingly really, really fun.

Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, a retired Black Ops CIA agent who lives a mundane life in suburbia. Is it boring? Hell yes. Does he seem to mind? Yes and no. In an intro that is akin to American Beauty (1999) (minus the narration) we catch a darkly funny glimpse into Moses' life and how he spends his time. Whether it's destroying his mail as a reason to speak to somebody on the phone, or putting up Christmas decorations simply because his neighbours have done it as well - Moses goes through the same motions day in and day out. But there's always that look in his eye. A look that says he prays somebody will come crashing through his wall with a semi-automatic and try to take him out. Cut to scene two - it appears Moses gets his wish.

If you're a man in Moses' position, you may live alone - but you're wise enough to know you're not really alone. Enter Moses' Black Ops long time friends - Joe (Morgan Freeman), crazy 'they did experiments on me' Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren). They all happen to be on the hit list it seems, and I'm not talking about 80's pop. Also joining the group is Moses' very recently acquired girlfriend, Sarah (Weeds' Mary-Louise Parker). The group's main goal outside of staying alive is to find the person who put the hit out on them.

They seek help from a former Russian enemy, Ivan (Brian Cox), who says to Moses "Twenty years ago if you would have walked through my door I would have killed you. Now... now I'm just too old to care". Ivan's statement becomes the creed Red as a films seems to live by. Through all their shenanigans these guys get into, each characters represents a certain ideal of what it's like to be past your prime.

Moses seems to have the philosophy that life goes on and things change, and he has to suck it up. He treats his retirement much like he would have treated a mission - in stride without uttering a complaint. Joe has Cancer and has since realized and accepted his fate. Victoria, on the other hand, is dreadfully bored. She likes her quiet life but keeps a gun near her at all times should the opportunity arise to put a bullet into someone's torso. Ivan is just saddened that it had to end and leads a life filled with nostalgia. At one point he utters to Moses "I miss the old days, I haven't killed anyone in years." To which Moses replies, in a empathetic and serious tone "That's sad." It is sad, but it's also quite funny. In the end, that's what Red is about.

What do you do when your 'life' is over? Do you accept it, do you fight it, or do you start a new chapter? Outside of that, Red is also about the generational gap between those born in the first half of the century and those born in the latter half. Moses' generation was about people who would do their job as long as they were recognized and treated right because of it. Meanwhile, rookie CIA agent Will Cooper's (Star Trek's (2009) Karl Urban) generation expects recognition and special treatment without having to work for it. It's safe to say in the end Cooper may learn a thing or two from Moses.

Red gets an open door. It's not just an action movie or a comedy, but deals with life lessons both realized and unrealized. The cast in this film is very well put together and creates a great energy that radiates from the screen - mainly as a result of the fun these guys had making this movie. There's some insanely great action shots in this movie, snappy dialogue and costumes that were also quite good (something I don't normally notice in films). It reminds me a lot of how a retired James Bond movie might play out. John Malkovich is also a delight and delivers some of the best one-liners of this film and most others I've seen this year. If you get the chance, go see Red. It's s shame this will undoubtedly get lost amongst the Jackass's and other more anticipated films of the Fall. It surely deserves more.

*Stills courtesy of Summit Entertainment


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