The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews


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Bruce Willis heads a star studded ensemble cast in director Robert Schwenke's (The Time Traveler's Wife) action comedy, 'Red', loosely based on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner and written for the screen by brothers Jon and Erich Hoeber.

Red stands for “retired and extremely dangerous” which is what Frank Moses (Willis, in top form) a former CIA black ops agent is labeled and targeted for a “hit”. Frank is living a quiet, ordinary life in a suburban Cleveland neighborhood with the highlight of his existence being flirtatious phone conversations with Sara (Tony winner, Mary Louise Parker) the very responsive phone girl at the CIA pensions department whom he calls to replace the checks he regularly tears up so that he can chat with her.

Frank's plans to finally hook up with Sara in person hits a snag when a team of assassins invade his home. After fighting off the bad guys and escaping from his exploding, fire engulfed home, Frank realizes he must have been under surveillance and had his phone tapped. In order to keep Sara safe he heads to her home in Kansas City to abduct her and keep her along while he embarks on a his cross country trek to unite with a few of his old ex CIA cohorts for help in finding out the who, what and why behind the need to take him out.

In New Orleans he meets up with 80 year old Joe (Morgan Freeman) living in a nursing home with stage 4 liver cancer, though it won't deter him from getting back to business at the request of his old buddy. Then its on to Florida to enlist Marvin (the reliably eccentric John Malcovich) a paranoid survivalist who took way too much LSD as a subject of a secret government mind control program and lives in an underground shelter with entrance via the hood of an old car. Of course, Marvin gets to prove that just because you are paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you.

Next to be recruited are Victoria (Helen Mirren) the classy, armed and very dangerous former British operative, known as the best killer in the business, and her former nemesis/lover Ivan (Brian Cox) the Russian operative tuned embassy ambassador. With Frank as their leader, the group all deemed “red”, work as a team to eventually uncover a conspiracy to cover up war crimes in Guatamala in 1982 that leads all the way to the Vice President (Julian McMahon, who starred in TV's Nip/Tuck). Meanwhile, CIA agent Cooper (Karl Urban) is on an unstoppable mission to hunt them down. The supporting cast also includes Ernest Borgnine in a small role as keeper of the CIA files and Richard Dreyfuss shows up as a wealthy, arms dealer/villain linked to the deadly Guatamalan affair.

Red is a sleek, fun filled action packed comedy/thriller punctuated by clever, witty, tongue and cheek humor and just the right amount of requisite shoot outs and fight sequences that implement all sort of weaponry including air missiles, granades and other incendiary devices. A highlight is watching the versatile Mirren, looking fabulous and svelte in her sixties, as the cool and collected machine gun wielding sniper setting sights on her mark. Indeed, her looks belie the fact that she can play one kick ass mama.

Added to the mix is a cute sideline romance. Parker is a hoot as the quirky phone operator with a history of bad dates and is an avid reader of romance novels. She sees her adventure with Frank as something straight out its pages and starts to really get into the danger and excitement involving her real life knight (in not so shiny armor) coming to her rescue. Sarah's unlikely relationship and interactions with Frank is comical and sweet and indeed one for the books.

Red isn't an Oscar contender, but it definitely provides 111 minutes of crowd pleasing, escapist entertainment and is a great way to spend your hard earned green. Plus, this is one time seeing RED is a good thing.