Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for intense action sequences and brief profanity.
Running time: 111 Minutes
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Just about the only excitement retiree Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) enjoys nowadays is speaking to Sarah Ross (Mary-Louis Parker), a customer service operator he has a crush. He manufactures excuses to call her daily to clear up fabricated problems about his pension checks. But the two have never even met because she’s located in Missouri while he’s in Ohio, so their relationship has been limited to a harmless flirtation.
As for Sarah’s side of the equation, she hates being stuck in a cubicle in a nine to five job she finds unsatisfying, so she lives vicariously through the characters of the romantic adventure novels she loves to read. She likes Frank, but has never seriously entertained the idea of rendezvousing with her elderly suitor.
Everything changes for both the day a hit squad attempts to ambush the ex-CIA agent in the middle of the night. After barely escaping, he makes his way to Kansas City to rescue Sarah who had no idea of his previous career as a spy or that she’s now in peril because of their frequent phone chats.
Frank arrives in town with no time to convince the startled and very reluctant object of his affection that she needs to flee with him immediately. So, he resorts to kidnapping her, and duct taping her mouth to prevent her from screaming. Then, while they’re crisscrossing the country on the run from bloodthirsty assassins, he pays a visit to each of his former partners, Joe (Morgan Freeman), Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Marvin (John Malkovich), to coax them out of retirement.
Once reassembled, the crack team soon determines that they’ve all been framed by a rogue agent (Karl Urban) still operating inside the Agency who wants them dead because of knowledge they share, which might expose him as a traitorous mole. This is the intriguing premise of “Red,” an action-oriented, espionage thriller based on the series of DC comic books of the same name by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner.
The movie was directed by Robert Schwentke who managed to assemble an A-List cast which includes Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich. The plotline plus the badinage back-and-forth among this accomplished quartet is a treat to behold, it’s just unfortunate that the production failed to invest as much in special effects as in the talent and the script.
Luckily, the acting is so superb you’re willing to forgive the inadvertently funny pyrotechnics which look like they cost about a five bucks to shoot. Instead the audience is inclined to focus on the inspired dialogue, such as the hilarious line “Wanna get pancakes?” delivered oh so matter-of-factly by Malkovich right after he’s blown away a bad guy.
Geezer G-Men gone wild!