25 October 2010
Think of The Expendables: it was quite shit … which made it incredibly awesome. It had horrible acting, disappointing action scenes, pseudo-one-liners that were forgotten the moment they were uttered, and an incredibly boring ‘girl’. Yet, it was still awesome.
Red, sadly ain’t.
Perhaps it is not a straight comparison, but everything that didn’t work in The Expendables, doesn’t work in Red either. And everything that worked for The Expendables, works for only a brief scene towards the end when Dame Helen Mirren massacres Secret Service and CIA guys with an RPG in a parking lot. That is awesome.
Bruce Willis, who had a cameo in the aforementioned muscle-fest, is a retired CIA operative. He is classified as Red (Retired and Extremely Dangerous - if there is a lamer anagram, please let me know). After he narrowly escapes from a ‘burn’ attempt by the CIA, he figures the woman he has been talking to on the phone about his pension checks (Mary Louise Parker, as irresistbly charming as always) is also in danger. He kidnaps her and gathers his old pals (all Red … sorta) to figure out the reason behind the ‘burn notice’.
You wish they actually watched “Burn Notice” at least to get a decent bearing on how to pace a plot.
Bruce Willis’s wise-cracking, crooked-smile persona is growing old (literally) and he could not have been a more drab choice for this part - his part in even the most intense action scenes is no more essential than that of the audience watching the film. Take him out and you have a decent enough story. This is not wholly Willis’s fault, though. The material he was given loses steam about 5 minutes into the film and rides on the premise and the star-wattage to a non-finale.
The supporting cast (along with the aforementioned Parker) are fantastic: John Malkovich plays the bastard child of his Ozzie Cox character from Burn After Reading and Tackleberry from Police Academy movies; Brian Cox is the sleazy Russian spy; and Dame Helen is the former MI6-operator, dressed perpetually in white. Oh, and there is also Morgan Freeman, but his character seems to serve for one particular scene only (for fear of spoiling it, I won’t give it away).
The problem with Red is its mediocrity - no idea seems to have evolved from its inception. Its rawness is annoying, because there is nothing worse than a film that doesn’t even try. Coasting on a clever premise, a few sight gags, and a stellar cast does not guarantee a good film. If you want to see ageing actors in a fish-out-of-pond story, try Space Cowboys. And avoid Red if at all possible.