Movie Review: RED

RED stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous” and I wanted to watch this movie simply because of the lineup above. The guy in suspenders not facing us is Richard Dreyfuss.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired CIA operative who lives a boring and sterile life of a retiree in the suburbs. He tears up his pension checks so he can call the help line and talk to Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), the help desk telephone operator in Kansas who he has never met but fallen in love with. One night he can’t sleep, he walks to this kitchen and 3:00am barefoot and finds three killers with automatic weapons in his house, which he promptly and expertly “eliminates.”

Thus starts a spree of very bad government operatives in black combat suits armed to the teeth spraying bullets by the seemingly hundreds of thousands, first literally mowing down his house in the suburbs, then spreading to all kinds of exotic and prosaic locales, never stopping. In his quiet neighborhood not even a dog barks, a neighbor wakes up, a police siren is heard while the house partially collapses under the hail of bullets.

Of course, not a one hits Frank and he walks out and looks for his bad-ass friends who then help him solve the mystery.  Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman) is over eighty and in a retirement home, watching the bums of nurses, waiting for death by cancer. Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) is a paranoid paramilitary in the tropics. Victoria (Helen Mirren) is the token female automatic weapon. “I kill people.”

Our government acts very badly in this movie. The vice president pulls the strings behind the scenes and uses the CIA as his personal hit squad. The CIA kills people indiscriminately and openly. Law enforcement never shows up while the bad stuff goes down and comes around as dunces when the smoke settles.

The millions of bullets never hit anyone, and if they do, it seems, a simple band-aid takes care of the problem and the super hero is back in the shooting business in the next scene.

All the above notwithstanding, the actors are so good and the story is so entertaining, this is a comedy I enjoyed watching. It has no redeeming qualities. I will probably forget it soon. It follows a formula for a simple action comedy that capitalizes on the caliber of the cast. It’s funny.

Rating: **
Ebert’s Review.

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