johnlink ranks RED (2010)

Many action films exist outside our own sense of reality. Some do this well (MR. AND MRS SMITH) and some do this poorly (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD). Much of the success of this genre has to do with how true a film is to its own world. RED is the type of action flick which starts on all cylinders, informing you it does not intend to take place in the real world. So how does it hold up?

I watched RED (2010) on10.15.11. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Ernest frickin’ Borgnine. All are wonderful in this. Also, Mary-Louise Parker (TV’s Weeds), who is someone I am only peripherally aware of, is absolutely hilarious here. Brian Cox as a Russian agent is likewise amazing. Karl Urban, who I usually like, attempting an American accent? Not so much. Pretty rough actually.

The first scene tells us that this is a world in which an ex-CIA agent living in the suburbs is to be eliminated by a team of armed men firing machine guns into a house for two straight minutes. No neighbors awaken, no sirens heard. It’s that type of thing. RED does a mostly good job of keeping itself in this world, because everything is so light and fun. There is an unnecessary death at one point which doesn’t ring true for two reasons. 1) Nothing before or after this film tells me that these guys (and girls) couldn’t get out of any situation. 2) The emotional weight this attempts to acquire never happens, because this world is so absurd.

That isn’t to say that this movie gets it all wrong. In fact, it is beginning to end fun. Perhaps the climax doesn’t live up to the set up by 5 or 10 percent, but it still goes on all cylinders all the time. Moments of ridiculousness are pretty to look at, and John Malkovich is so frickin’ committed to what should be a stupid role that buttons on scenes earn out loud laughs rather than eye-rolls.

Some movies sink under the weight of too many stars. RED shines because of its A-list power. We WANT, for some reason I can’t explain, to see an 80 year old Morgan Freeman kick someone’s ass. We WANT, God knows why, to see Helen Mirren wield a sniper rifle. And, for some reason I certainly cannot fathom other than that he can often be irritating, we WANT to see Richard Dreyfuss get his comeuppance.

The morality of killing in this is interesting to consider. This is the standard HOLLYWOOD HIT MAN story, in that hit men are lost souls or truly good inside, just misunderstood. Willis refuses to kill CIA or FBI agents coming for him. When he does slaughter people, we later find out they are African. So, you know, that’s ok. More strange is that Karl Urban’s character, who we are supposed to pull for at certain points, is showed to be a cold, ruthless killer in his first scene. This is supposed to be softened by the fact that he is on the phone with his wife. Later, if we were to find out the person he was killing was some terrible person, perhaps the film could get away with it. Instead, (unless the cues this movie gives us are incorrect), he’s just a name on a list, who may or may not have done something bad, and who may or may not have deserved what he got.

In the end, while certainly not a revelation, RED does much more right than wrong. It’s fun. And in a world of stale action flicks, I found it refreshing.





~ by johnlink00 on October 16, 2011.

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