I’ve almost completed another one of my mini-goals to have watched every “major” comic book movie ever made. This was another film that came out during a time when I wasn’t watching many movies, and especially not many R rated movies. I’ve just come off of a review where I completely fell in love with the Losers and I’m not entirely sure that I would have loved that film quite as much had I seen this one first. It follows a somewhat similar set up, only instead of a disgraced and left-for-dead team of CIA operatives who at one point break into the CIA with plenty of comedy, this is a group of retired CIA operatives who at one point break into the CIA with plenty of comedy. While the caliber of acting in the Losers was decent, with Chris Evans, Idris Elba, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, this cast is a significantly higher caliber with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and plenty more. While I do still love the Losers, I think RED beats it out in almost every possible way, aside from having a character with multiple awesome t-shirts.
The film starts out simply enough with an older guy looking for any excuse to talk to a woman who is younger, but not obnoxiously young. He seems to be trying his best to fit in, and then come the guns and it never quite stops after that. But the movie never quite loses the romance and connection angle even though their relationship greatly changes over the course of the movie. It helps that the relationship is what kicks off the film so it doesn’t feel like it’s tacked on for reasons. And while Parker is initially resistant, she has a great arc where she becomes excited and finally enamored of his action movie lifestyle. For his part, Willis keeps his character rather understated and more focused on the action, but that combination ends up working quite well between his experienced and routine reactions to everything that’s going on and her combination of panic and thrill. The addition of Helen Mirren and Brian Cox’s relationship also adds an extra dimension that helps sell it that much more.
Where this film really shines is through the talent involved in every role. Willis, Freeman, Malkovich, Mirren, even Dreyfuss in a small role. Karl Urban was also great in the role of the young agent assigned to head the operation to eliminate Willis considering some of the other roles that he’s known for like Bones and Dredd. Not only that, but most of the other actors aside from Willis are playing against type and still pulling it off in spades. Malkovich’s character was especially fun to see him play a crazed conspiracy theory nut who happens to excel at misdirection and is actually right more often than not.
But what the movie is really all about is the action and fun, and everyone in this film seemed to be having a lot of fun. Again, similar to the Losers it had quite a bit of a heist feel to it during several of their mini-infiltration and escape plans where everything seemed to be going in their favor until something happened that looked like it was going to mess everything up until it turned out to still be going exactly as planned. There was also a bit of a road trip and mystery aspect of this film as they are trying to uncover why Willis was targeted for a hit in the first place and since this is an action movie of course the answer goes all the way to the top. Almost literally in this case. One of the few downsides was that the reveal of the true villain of the movie was rather underwhelming, especially when Urban plays such a great opponent throughout the entire film. Another downside was that the death of Morgan Freeman’s character felt too underplayed. It was set up to a certain extent that he was living with terminal cancer and potentially only had a short while to live anyway, but there was only a brief goodbye scene when they decided what they were going to do and he was never really mentioned again afterwards. They even set up the fact that he could have been shot in the chest in such a way that he could have survived, but didn’t ultimately go that route.
That said, this was a ton of fun to watch. There isn’t really any underlying meaning or themes buried in this film so it makes it difficult to really discuss this film without just giving examples of scenes and jokes. It is a very basic action comedy, but it is done very well. There are plenty of great moments of action, especially the fight between Willis and Urban in the CIA headquarters. In fact, their entire antagonistic relationship helps carry this film just as much as the positive relationship between Willis and Parker, even moreso because they both follow similar paths and meet somewhere almost in the middle. Though I never expected to see Willis and Urban share a kiss. RED is just all around mindless fun with a hint of a good mystery and heist aspects mixed in. I’ve heard mixed things about the sequel, but I’m curious to see where it goes from here. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.