Red isn’t a reference to the color, though of course there’s a lot of blood. Nor is it a nickname — there are no redheads in sight. It’s actually an acronym, though if you haven’t read the graphic novel, I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what it stands for. And yes, this was based on a graphic novel of the same name, by writer Warren Ellis and artist Cully Hamner. I think a couple of people in the audience were a little startled to see the DC logo in the opening credits, actually.
Red isn’t a reference to the color, though of course there’s a lot of blood. Nor is it a nickname — there are no redheads in sight. It’s actually an acronym, though if you haven’t read the graphic novel, I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what it stands for. And yes, this was based on a graphic novel of the same name, by writer Warren Ellis and artist Cully Hamner. I think a couple of people in the audience were a little startled to see the DC logo in the opening credits, actually. It looks like your standard action thriller — and it is, if you overlook the fact that the average age of the seven most important characters in the movie is 56.714 years. That’s with adding in youngster Karl Urban at a mere 38 years old.
But of the main group, Bruce Willis is the youngster. He’s Frank Moses (Paul in the graphic novel), retired CIA analyst who never worked in the field. No, seriously, he’s completely harmless. That’s what William Cooper (the aforementioned Karl Urban, aka Bones) is told when he’s sent to kill Moses. Several dead agents and a lot of destruction later, Cooper figures out he’s being played.
Moses doesn’t quite know what’s going on, either, but he knows he has to rescue Sarah. That’s Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds); and let me say how glad I am that they didn’t try giving him a romance with a 25-year-old. This movie proves that you don’t have to be a young pup to fall in love, enjoy time with your friends, or kill lots of people. Sarah works for the government pension department that sends Moses his checks, and he keeps inventing problems so he can talk to her. Since the CIA listens to everything, they know exactly how much he’s been talking to her, and that makes her a target.
Joe is also a target. He’s Morgan Freeman (Invictus), and one of Moses’ old teammates, now in a nursing home ogling the nurses. And Marvin’s a target, Marvin being John Malkovich of Jonah Hex infamy. Marvin is — um, odd. He’s a conspiracy theorist who lives under a car. Way, way under a car.
Victoria (Helen Mirren, State of Play) isn’t a target, but she is an old friend. She’s the British Martha Stewart, looking impeccably coiffed and dressed as she arranges flowers with one hand and brandishes a large gun with the other. Everyone has really huge guns, by the way. They don’t point handguns, they point hand cannons. They skip rifles and go straight to mortars, for the most part. Also not a target, but ready to help, is ex-Soviet agent Ivan, played by Brian Cox, of Zodiac and Red. No, really. He was in another movie called Red in 2008. That’s his thing.
Anyway, with age, your timing becomes impeccable. People show up at exactly the perfect moment to save the day, and no one’s ever quite where you expect them to be. And really, age is the perfect cover for anything you might want to do. If you’re a guard, and you see the impeccably coiffed Helen Mirren in an evening gown smiling and walking towards you, your first thought isn’t going to be, “Gee, I wonder if she’s here to knock me out and fire a really big machine gun at the person I’m guarding”. As it turns out, that should be your first thought, of course, but it wouldn’t be.
There was a largish audience; we laughed — yes, there are moments of excellent humor, mostly from John Malkovich, but everyone gets a turn — and we cheered on the team. Richard Dreyfuss (Piranha) gets to chew the scenery as Bad Man Alexander Dunning; Cooper’s boss (Rebecca Pidgeon) is suitably icy and ruthless; Cooper himself steals a lot of scenes in a very good way; and Sarah as the hapless normal person thrown into the world of spies is very cool and says a lot of the same things I would’ve said in her situation. Everything clicks really well, and that gets it four idols out of five. Please, I’m begging you. Go watch this. Don’t give Jackass 3-D any more money.