Saturday, January 29, 2011

RED, While Somewhat Fomulaic, is Funny, Action Packed.

We have nearly been inundated with action comedies over the years. The "Lethal Weapon" "Die Hard" and "Beverly Hills Cop" franchises, among others, helped join what were once two seperate genres into one that has become one of the most prolific in recent years. In an earlier entry, I spoke of the film "The Expendables" which brought together many of our action heroes of the last two decades. This film is similar, in that it brings together many top stars. But that's where the similarity ends. The stars in this film, while some are known for their roles in action films, others are not. So, this film would seemingly come off as ridiculous. One may ask themselves why an actress such as Helen Mirren (who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth) would play a former assassin. But she does here, quite well.

Bruce Willis, who IS known for his role in one of the best action franchises of all time "Die Hard" plays Frank Moses, a former CIA black-ops agent who is now living a quiet suburban life. The highlight of his days are speaking to a young pension case worker, Sarah, played by the gorgeous Mary Louise Parker. Sarah and Frank don't know each other from adam. But they soon discover that while Frank's life is boring and consists of speaking to a lovely young woman, the highlight of Sarah's life is the reading of her romance novels. Finding that they have their dreary mondaine lives in common, the grow to admire each other. That's soon to change. Frank's past catches up with him, and he's forced back into service, only to find himself and Sarah caught up in a conspiracy. In order to save their lives, Frank must re-unite with his old black ops team, which include Helen Mirren, the incomparable Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich, each of whom have been classified RED, Retired and Extremely Dangerous. What ensues is a mixture of typical action comedy fare, and entertainment and originality stemming from the actors' portrayals.

Bruce Willis is an actor, much like Christopher Walken, in that his acting style is nearly the same in every film. He has a very monotone, stony delivery with the occasional emotional outburst that will sometimes catch the viewer off guard. This is not a bad thing. It's just his style, and it works well. He doesn't have to be emotionally over the top. His monotonous tone will convey any emotion. He has a very expressive face, and that's where the variety his acting takes place. His tone doesn't have to change. His eyes will say what his voice does not. Another actor in the film, John Malkovich, is notorious for playing quirky, off beat characters. Perhaps the man himself is just a little quirky. But he's one of my favorite actors because of it. In this film, he plays a crazy, paranoid weapons expert who has typical bouts of paranoia, saying that "they" are after him, and "they're" spying on him from the satellites in space. You almost get the feeling that perhaps Malkovich has the same ideas. His characterization is fitting of the man.

The story itself seems familiar. A retired agent is all of the sudden sprung back into action because of his past. It sounds like an episode of "24". But, bringing together a group of actors who you would not normally see in a film such as this is what makes this film refreshing and original. You would believe that this group would have worked together in the past, and will continue to work together. This can be credited to the versatility of the actors themselves. Normally, you would not see a group of actors with such varied backgrounds, but they all work together, and they look like they've been doing so for years.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. Only occasionally did I feel that it wasn't worth my time. But it wasn't enough to turn me off of it completely. It was a good cast, decent script, and passable acting. I'd recommend it for those who are looking to be entertained. I definitely was.

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