Bruce Willis has been playing “too old for this $#!+” roles since he was 35 and Die Hard 2 hit the silver screen. For good reason, he’s good at playing the begrudging hero. In Red, the only real difference is the love interest portion of the story. That part of the story may have added depth to the character, but really was the only mediocre part of this fun, guns and bombs adventure. Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, a Retired, Extremely Dangerous (RED) CIA operative.
The story is good enough to move the story along, but the characters are what make this great.
John Malkovich steals the show as Marvin, a “Government is experimenting with my brain” lunatic paranoid gun-nut. The fact that the government was actually experimenting with his brain only makes the character more amusing. That’s not a spoiler. They come out at say it when they introduce the character.
Hellen Mirren is entirely believable and earnest as Victoria, a former Wet-Work Specialist (That means assassin in CIA fiction.) She also has a romantic back-story that is more precious than the ongoing romantic fore -story of Willis’ Moses and the Social Security call center girl, Mary-Louise Parker’s Sarah,
Morgan Freeman plays Joe, the mentor of Frank Moses. We learn early on that Joe has stage 4 liver cancer, which means the audience knows right away he’s going to be the first “Good Guy” of the movie to die. I won’t say whether he actually dies or not, that would be too spoiler-ish. But in his time on the screen he is exactly what we’d expect from Morgan Freeman – wise and wily.
Karl Urban, who most of us would recognize from the revamped Star Trek film as Dr. McCoy, plays the current version of what Bruce Willis used to be: An up and coming CIA operative. He is tasked with the “off the books, no paper trail” job of killing Frank Moses. His character undergoes the most dramatic swings through the story and Karl does an excellent job of communicating his character’s changes and emotions through those changes.
The visuals of the film are excellent reproductions of comic book panes. Some examples are Victoria in formalwear white coat standing behind a very large tripod mounted machine gun and firing continuously for what had to be five minutes of the movie. We’ve all seen the preview of the bullet hitting the rocket propelled grenade head on. They couldn’t show the effects of the grenades hitting people at center mass in the preview, but the visual effects of those were comic gory genius. Marvin standing, looking dejected, in the center of hanger, holding his stuffed pink pig dangling by it tail, was perfectly hilarious.
The gory exploding parts of the film were comic book gory, not realistic gory so it got a PG-13 rating. I give it 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend seeing it in the theatre. I would then buy it on Blu-Ray.