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"Red" offers easy-to-enjoy action

By Megan Carey
On October 18, 2010

Two questions: When did Bruce Willis become old enough to be the aged, retired character in a film and what possessed classy-lady Helen Mirren to man a sniper rifle as well as a high-powered machine gun?

It was these questions that directed me to the theater to see "Red," a movie I otherwise would not have seen. Comic book adaptation movies are usually not my forte, mainly because I do not read comics whatsoever. However, "Red" is only loosely based on the comic, with less violence and more humor than its comic book miniseries counterpart, which meant I had a clear conscience to see "Red."

The CIA concept of the film only vaguely interested me because CIA, in my mind, means Cannot Initially Apprehend. The CIA involvement brought with it tons of gunfire and an intersecting of lives that otherwise would not have intersected if it weren't for some crazy, weird CIA-type reason. The ragtag team of CIA misfits used to be a team once upon a time, but they haven't seen one other since they retired. Now, they are forced to reunite when a hit squad is hired to kill them.

What did pique my interest and draw me in was the cast of "Red:" Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich. Who would ever pass up the honor and privilege of listening to Freeman's voice, really?

Willis received and acted upon every opportunity to boast his wonderful action chops, which even I can say were accentuated in one really awesome film sequence in which he steps nonchalantly out of a spinning car to go shoot some misled CIA operative. Mirren, graceful as ever with her smashing British accent, is, in my opinion, the highlight of the film because she is the essence of the film's message – age and occupation don't deter a person from wanting a normal life. Frank Moses (Willis) just wants to have a normal existence with Sarah (Mary Louise Parker), without his retired Black Ops status to come and haunt or kill him. Victoria (Mirren), ex-M16 spy, longs to be reunited with the Russian spy (Brian Cox) whom she loved, but was forced to shoot three times in the chest. Will either of them get what they want?

What turned me off, and sort of downright irritated me, about the movie was its focus on age and life after not being young anymore. It was blatantly shoved in the audience's faces with frequent phrases like "Grandpa" and "Old man," and I felt that the director thought I wasn't intelligent to pick up on the feelings and situations of the characters. As if it didn't occur to me that when CIA agents, or anyone for that matter, retire, it is because they were getting old.

Despite the minor negative aspects, "Red" was a romp of a good time and at least it was a CIA film I could comprehend. It doesn't require a lot of brain cells and has numerous good-laugh moments throughout.

Now, next question: What kind of films will Willis evolve to next…ones beyond the grave?

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