Given that I never got around to writing about RED when I saw it in theaters, now seems like the right time to get back to it, given that it came out on DVD last week – January 25, to be exact.
Yeah, I saw RED in theaters, if you can believe it – and we had to sit all the way up front as it was a full house. No, we weren’t late, the place was just blowin’ up with peeps. Any why? A star studded cast and a fine looking trailer looked like we were getting set for a comedic romp through shoot ’em up and blow ’em to hell country.
Well, it didn’t exactly go down like that, did it? The movie starts off in promising fashion: Bruce Willis, a retired CIA black ops agent is bored living alone in his house, so for amusement, he tears up his pension checks and calls the customer service line so he can chat with Mary-Louise Parker (frankly, I hear that), who is also bored to distraction at her job. This section of the movie is light and fun – I believe these characters exist and behave as represented – it’s really well done.
It’s pretty much all down hill from here.
Rather than summarizing the movie, suffice it to say that once the budding romance section is over, we enter the things start blowing up section of the movie. Now I love it when things blow up, but it has to be done better that it was in RED. The movie doesn’t get boring, but you start to care less about the characters. We slowly meet the rest of cast as the film plods along: John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Karl Urban – hell, they even sneak Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine into the damn movie! But all this does is keep you in your seat and your eyes front; it doesn’t draw you into the movie, it just keeps the damn thing on life support.
The movie makes weird choices – sometimes, people are around and they notice the insane comic book violence (which is fine – the movie is based off a comic book mini series of the same name), but other times, they don’t – like when Bruce Willis’s house gets shot to shit in the beginning of the movie, there isn’t so much as a whisper from his neighbors – or the cops, for that matter. But other times, there are screaming ensembles heading for the exits… now mind you, this isn’t what’s wrong with the movie, but more of a microcosmic example of a movie that doesn’t know what it is. Is it a comedy? A comic book movie? An action movie? A romance? It’s can’t make up its mind, and it doesn’t do any of them well. But it has wonderful moments, and the first twenty minutes is great. Oh, and any time Helen Mirren is on the screen, things are going well – there’s something about her in a dress firing high caliber automatic machine guns that just does it for me. (Remembering, of course, that they’re Retired. Extremely. Dangerous. They’re RED. Riiiiiiiiiight.)
If you love comic book movies, then you’ll want to see RED. If not, you might want to skip it all together – it’s a really tough call. For all it’s problems, it’s a likable movie and therefor gets my Coors Light recommendation: if it’s there and there is nothing else to drink, then pound it. At 111 minutes, it’s running a little long, and I could have done without that little vignette at the end; no one should ever have to see John Malkovich in drag – that was cruel… yet not unusual. (See Being John Malkovich!)