I don’t always write up reviews for movies I see, not because I don’t enjoy them, but because I don’t always have anything to say. What would I have said about Toy Story 3? Well, it was—still awesome? Go Pixar?
Red, however, I find I have things to talk about. Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich are retired CIA/MI6 suddenly under attack by the CIA for—something. The man in charge is Karl Urban, an ambitious but young CIA operative. These were all the reasons I went to see the movie.
But did it deliver? It delivered some great Karl Urban. He looked great, he did well, and from the CIA side, he was wonderful. The retirees were clearly having fun, but not enough. I read one critic that said Morgan Freeman was just waiting for his agent to call, and I can’t particularly argue with that; he was incredibly underused. It’s got some wonderful bit roles from Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine, and they are two of the more dynamic cast, even with small parts. Bruce Willis got to play Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker got to be a sappy romance novel reader, John Malkovich got to be crazy, Helen Mirren got play with guns. That’s really it.
I found myself by the end of the film not caring if the retirees would succeed. If they’d been blown to pieces and taught a lesson for trying to defy the government, I wouldn’t have cared. They tried to give us a lead-in to these people—and they succeed with Bruce Willis, I think—but it wasn’t enough to make me invest in their well-being. The humanity that so many recent films and shows have given to the spy world could have helped this film. Did it need to go all the way to Alias drama? No, but it could’ve used some of the underlying tension and emotion.
This film maintained the typical emotional disconnect that a graphic novel falls prey to. Or maybe I really am just losing my taste for action movies.
Rating: 3 out of 5