RED | Robert Schwentke, 2010
So you have a cast made up of two master thespians, the best african-american actor working today, a great action star, an underrated actor who’s best known for Lord of the Rings and Star Trek, and a TV actress whose work in her show is the best thing about it. Then you have a plot that puts most of them as retired CSI agents who are being targeted by the current administration. This has all the makings of being one of the most entertaining movies of the year, right? Yeah, I thought so too. When I saw the trailer, and consequently Helen Mirren getting all gun crazy, I though that there was no way this movie could fail. But then I saw it, and it became one of the most disappointing movies I’ve ever seen.
In RED, Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, a retired CIA agent. His life is so boring, that every time he gets his retirement check he tears it apart to be able to talk to a representative of the government named Sarah (Mary Louise Parker) about his check, and then about life in general. However, one day an assassination squad comes into his house to kill him. And of course since the character is played by Bruce Willis, no squad can take him. Then he goes on to find Sarah since they are now going to kill her because he likes her. Then he finds Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, and Helen Mirren, they find out some nasty stuff, some comedy ensues and then some action.
First the good: Karl Urban’s hair
And now the bad: everything else. Seriously. Now, it may not be in my bottom 10 of the year, but it is close. First off, the writing is atrocious. The plot, even with older people involved, was ripe for a political thriller. However, they chose to turn it into a comedy with painfully unfunny humor and one-liners. And the direction doesn’t help overcome the huge pile of crap that is the script. Schwentke’s direction is as pedestrian as they come. His work is so bad, that he makes Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus, and Brett Ratner seem like they know what they are doing. Because of this, the most important factors of this did not work: the action (which is horribly choreographed, shot, and lacks any tension), and the performances.
Every actor, from Bruce Willis, who should feel right at home since it is an action movie, to Helen Mirren, who should be having a ton of fun playing something that she has never played before, seems like they are sleep-walking through the movie. Willis and Mirren look bored. John Malkovich is not crazy enough. Brian Cox is ridiculous, Richard Dreyfus is extremely over-the-top. Karl Urban puts is pretty much just reading his lines as if he was reading the dictionary. And Morgan Freeman’s talent is wasted as the team member that is only there to die for the greater good. The only one that put some effort was Mary Louise Parker, but everyone around her is so bad that you can’t help but wish she wasn’t putting as much effort.
If you are looking for a good movie to kill some time, please look for something else.