Movie Review: “Red”

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After thrilling times at the last two movies led by Bruce Willis (“Live Free or Die Hard,” “Surrogates”), I was expecting more of the same with “Red” (Retired Extremely Dangerous). While it’s not as preposterously outrageous as “A-Team,” I haven’t had this much brainless fun with a movie since early this summer!

Powered up by an all-star, veteran cast having a rollicking good time, the graphic novel adaptation of “Red” is running wild. Fierily carefree, these retired oldsters could easily beat their younger counterparts by a round of shots and some.

When I saw Bruce Willis stumping for the movie at Comic-Con this year, I was surprised to learn about the Helen Mirren bit. At that time, I never heard of “Red” before (I was there waiting for Angelina Jolie to make an appearance on the “Salt” panel). All doubts were erased when the trailer was shown. With a stern, rifle-totting Mirren looking more than competent to kick butt and her muttering “I kill people, dear,” I was instantly sold.

On the heels of being assailed in his own home in the dark of the night, tough-looking, soft-spoken Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) rushes out to find Sarah Moss (Mary-Louise Parker), an employee of Department of Pension whom he has romantic interest in. Previously he’s been ripping off his checks so that he could call and chat with her, while she’s been chatting him up about foreign travels and romance novels.

Willis does seem like the kind of CIA operative who takes down drug lords, terrorists and governments. Parker is impeccable with her wide-eyed, nutty expressions and comedic timing. There’s a hysterical exchange at her place when the two first meet in person. And the conversation in the car about their “first date” is positively gut-busting. The coolest, singular scene involves Willis stepping out of a spinning car and onto his feet firing.

Together Frank and Sarah drive across the country to find his former CIA buddies; Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and “Victoria” (Helen Mirren).

With CIA agents William Cooper (Karl Urban) and Cynthia Wilkes (Rebecca Pidgeon) hot on their trails, the team is racing against time to uncover war crimes involving a top-ranking U.S. government official. Richard Dreyfuss makes a cameo as Alexander Dunning, a man with ties to the White House, and his role in the conspiracy becomes clear toward the end.

Willis rocks with his break in-and-out of CIA headquarters and dragged-out fist fights. Malkovich is an absolute riot as the eccentric paranoid Marvin. You’ve never seen an underground compound until you see Marvin’s! Definitely do not call him an “old man” and take it easy with the grenade or bazooka. Freeman, initially seen living in a retirement home, might be the closest one to being a mellow retired agent – although don’t count him out yet (or underestimate his punch!) Armed and dangerous Mirren does her part and fits right in with the boys, all the while connecting with an old flame.

“Red” is the summer blockbuster that we never had… it’s over-the-top, comically combustible ride that we don’t ever want to stop.

Copyright (c) 2010. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven ( Nathalia can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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