Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red’s Meagre Comedy Left Me Blue


I never thought I would say this but I am tired of comic book inspired movies. As an avid comic book reader I should love Hollywood’s desire to adapt everything under the sun to the big screen, but I just cannot sit through the junk anymore. The Walking Dead series has shown that graphic novels are better suited for television format than they are for feature films. A television series allows time to properly develop plot and characters; both of which are often lacking in film adaptations. This is most evident when watching films such as Red.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired C.I.A. operative who spends most of his days on the phone chatting up Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service representative. Without warning Frank is targeted for extermination by the same agency he once served. In order to figure out who is behind all of this, Frank enlists the help of his former team (Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich). Although removed from the front lines for several years, Frank and his pals are about to teach the new breed of C.I.A., including William Cooper (Karl Urban), that whole habits die hard.

Red is one of those action comedies that exist on the sole premise that it is funny to watch old people shooting big guns. Unfortunately, the one-note joke becomes old rather fast. Once you get pass this point there is not much that the film actually offers. It is merely a string of action set pieces held together by the odd one-liners here and there.

While it is fun at times to see the likes of Mirren and Malkovich channelling their inner action hero, there is nothing that really bonds you to the characters. Everyone is fairly one dimensional, more than you would have expected from this type of film. Malkovich is the weird paranoid one, Willis is the love struck action hero, Mirren is the cool and deadly killer, etc. Half the time you end up questioning why Willis even needed to pull the whole team together in the first place? Morgan Freeman’s Joe is the most useless character in the whole bunch. His only real purpose is to show that legends should not rot away in a retirement home.

Even when Red tries to provide some depth, via the loved story between Frank and Sarah, the film falls flat. It is very telling when the brief love arc between Helen Mirren’s Victoria and Brian Cox’s Ivan is far more interesting than one of Frank and Sarah relationships around which the film centres. The subplots do not fair any better. The information regarding William Cooper’s family life is not enough to explain his actions in the latter half of the film. Also the whole storyline between the characters portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss and Julian McMahon is never properly developed and feels tacked on in the end.

Red is a film that entertains in short spurts but ultimately does not offer anything that will not be forgotten once you leave theatres.

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