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Missusswyrm takes a look at RED

Some people just aren't meant to accept their gold watches and settle quietly into a peaceful retirement. Especially people like Frank Moses, (Bruce Willis), a retired CIA operative, whose cozy home and simple life are obliterated by a team of hit men sent to eliminate him. Frank soon learns that he's been classified as "Retired, Extremely Dangerous," and is on somebody's hit list. Enlisting the help of some old friends (and enemies) Frank sets out to get to the bottom of things. Based very loosely on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, Red is a fun, witty action comedy flick that feels like it'd be more at home busting out as a summer release, rather than mingling with autumn's Oscar hopefuls. Indeed, Red might seem a little lacking among the plot-heavy set. While the story is solid enough, it's not particularly groundbreaking, nor is it deep. Similarly, the action, though entertaining, is fairly light as action movies go. Don't expect edge-of-your-seat action scenes that get your adrenaline pumping and leave your head spinning. Nope, this is pretty much your standard fist fights and gun fire sort of fare. So, why should you see Red? Let me name a few reasons: Bruce Willis. Helen Mirren. John Malkovich. Morgan Freeman. Richard Dreyfuss. Ernest (freakin') Borgnine. Plus, Carl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, and a bevy of other fine actors. Truly, the strength of Red is in its stellar cast and the interesting, likeable characters that they so expertly portray. Willis plays Frank as confident and capable, with just the right amount of charm and a endearing dash of vulnerability, as we see him struggle with the butterflies and uncertainty of a new romance. The object of his affection is Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a representative at a Social Security Administration call center, with whom Frank has been flirting over the phone. Sarah soon finds herself caught up in Frank’s troubles and ends up along for the ride. Parker is as likeable as ever, imbuing Sarah with just a bit of quirkiness. Of course, one cannot praise the cast’s acting and not acknowledge the esteemed Morgan Freeman, who is as excellent in Red as he usually is, although this character, another retired ex-CIA badass with a down-to-earth demeanor and a sense of honor, doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch for him. Perhaps the real scene-stealer , though, is John Malkovich, playing conspiracy theorist Marvin Boggs. Marvin seems more than a little paranoid, but then, he has good reason to be. As they say, is it really paranoia if everyone really is out to get you? Malkovich nails the humor in his scenes and chews up the scenery in the best way possible. Finally, it would be remiss not to mention one of the highlights of the film, Helen Mirren…with a really big gun. Yes, you read that correctly. Mirren plays Victoria, a special agent in (semi) retirement, whose help Frank enlists. Mirren is equally poised in a ball gown as she is with an automatic weapon. She knows how to accessorize (check out some James Bond-like gadget goodness involving her jewelry) and is a vision on the dance floor, but ever the professional, this lady knows how to take a hit and when to pull out the combat boots. You’ll not see this heroine flouncing through an action scene in a ridiculous pair of stilettos, and when she breaks out the boots, mama means business. Overall, Red is a great time. The story is engaging enough for an action flick, though it’s basically a variation on things we’ve seen before. It’s a buddy cop reunion story, only with CIA operatives. It almost seemed that, at any moment, someone might say, “I’m getting to old for this shit,” though luckily, nobody ever does. The dialogue is, in fact, snappy and funny, and the actors have a good chemistry together. Just watching Red, one gets the impression that they had a blast making it, and that fun attitude really carries through to the viewer. If you’re looking for some light, entertaining action this fall, grab some popcorn and get ready for Red.

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