A Few Explosions and a Few Chuckles
Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, a retired CIA assassin with too much time on his hands. To pass his days, he finds excuses to call Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer-service representative at his pension company. Just as he’s off to Kansas City to meet her in person, a bunch of machine gunning killers shows up at his Cleveland home. He vanquishes them (duh), before abducting Sarah because — “they” must have tapped his phones and know how he feels about her? The movie skips over that part quickly.
Thus begins a road-trip-action-romance that crisscrosses the eastern half of the United States for seemingly no other reason than to get advice from a variety of other assassins, also played by Very Famous People (Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren).
After a series of explosions, infiltrating the CIA and holding a mysterious man hostage, the merry crew of elderly assassins finally figures out who wants them dead and why. But there’s no real aha moment, mostly because the plot is so obviously beside the point.
From the moment Red begins, you know how it will end; every plot twist in between can be seen coming from ten miles away. Mary-Louise Parker, as Moses’ love-interest-turned-hostage-turned-girlfriend, serves no purpose other than to provide a pretty face. This may have been okay had there been any chemistry to speak of between the two. But alas.
Red’s charm rests solely on the quality of the explosions and fight scenes (quite good) and the chemistry of its fast-talking stars (less good). John Malkovich, as the paranoid, LSD-addled Marvin, provides most of the humor, especially when juxtaposed with the ever-sophisticated Helen Mirren. Nobody plays a loose canon quite like Malkovich.
Red could have been a much better movie. It has enough punchy dialogue and sweet explosions that, had the camp value been elevated a few notches, it could have hit the action-comedy sweet spot that made Machete so awesome.
As it is, it’s an amusing, if entirely forgettable, crowd pleaser.
When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants.