2010, PG-13, 111 min. Directed by Robert Schwentke. Starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ernest Borgnine, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 15, 2010
Proof, if more were needed, that the artistic collision between the aging baby boomers and their comic book-obsessed progeny makes for some mighty strange, but not unentertaining, bedfellows, Red features four leads with a combined age of 257 – add the grand, Methuselean Borgnine to the mix and you get a nice, round 350 – who alternate between waxing eloquent on the ephemerality of youth and resuscitating said salad daze by blowing shit up real good. Yee-haw! It's not quite Space Cowboys-styled hokum (the film is based on a DC Comics series written by the always excellent Warren Ellis), but you've got to wonder about why so many slam-bang action outings of late revolve around aged AARP-worthy gunslingers and ordnance rats coming in out of the cold when the age of the average cineplexgoer continues to hover around the mid- to high teens. Willis plays a retired CIA badass by the name of Frank Moses who is forced to round up his old Cold War "associates" when someone at the Agency decides to clean out the old guard, permanently. Allied with Frank is Freeman's smooth talking, rest-home-residing Joe, Cox's bearish ex-Soviet superspy Ivan, Malkovich's justly paranoid comic foil Marvin, and the elegant and still very fetching Mirren as ex-MI6 operative Victoria. Also along for the ride is Parker's Sarah, a bored government drone who discovers the true meaning of life (and love) when she's kidnapped (sort of) by Frank. Urban (Star Trek's Bones) gives an intense, sympathetic performance as an ambassador of the new breed of cutthroat, hyper-competitive Langley spooks, but Red is, at its heart, a rom-com, guns ’n’ bombs mash-up that poses serious questions about the role of the aged in a youth-mad, globalized system and then answers them with a smirk, a smile, and a whole lot of terrifically choreographed action set-pieces. Hollywood: Go figure. The film's source material was considerably more downbeat in its depiction of aging lions (and lionesses) run amok, but for all its game goofiness – and Red, at times, is genuinely goofy stuff – there's no denying the kick you get from seeing Borgnine (forever lovelorn Marty to me, when he's not tooling around my head as Cabbie, from John Carpenter's Escape From New York) and company kick ass, take names, and go batshit crazy one last time. As if this were the last time. As. If.