I’ve been a fan of Bruce Willis for some time now. From his first major appearance on MOONLIGHTING through the DIE HARD films, I’ve made a point to see his films when they are released. When I heard that he was starring in RED, based on the comic book of the same name, I was anxious to see how it turned out. And while it plays loose with the source material, it ends up being one of my favorite films from last year.
The story revolves around Frank Moses (Willis), a retired “Agency” assassin living a boring life that has become far too routine for him. To pass the time he calls Sarah Ross (Mary Louise Parker), the woman who handles payments to retired employees of a company she only knows as legit with no clue as to his past. Each month he calls to tell her the check didn’t arrive, even though it did, and the two have a conversation. Both are bored and lonely and strike up a phone friendship.
Unfortunately for Frank the “Agency” monitors all of its ex-employees designated RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous) and don’t take kindly to them making consistent phone calls. Rather than assume nothing despicable is going on, they’re more prone to think secrets are being leaked or some other nefarious plot is in the works. So they send a strike team to take out Frank one night. But as his designated retirement status claims, Frank is not someone you should mess with. The team is taken out and Frank is on the run.
His first stop is to find Sarah who he realizes he has accidentally placed in danger. Rescuing her and with her still not quite ready to believe his story, they head out to find other members of his old team. Like conspiracy minded Marvin Boggs who thinks everyone is out to get him played fantastically by John Malkovich. Then Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman) who welcomes the chance to escape his retirement home for some action like the old days. And finally there is Victoria (Helen Mirren), set up in peaceful tranquility…with the exception of taking on the occasional assassination.
Brought back together by circumstances the team is on the move to find out who it was that authorized the hit and why. On their tail is “Agency” man William Cooper (Karl Urban), a top notch agent who could be Frank’s match. If it wasn’t for the fact that Frank taught Cooper’s trainer everything he knew…but not all that Frank knew.
Crosses and double crosses flow throughout the story as the team follows one lead to another in an attempt to find out just who is behind the uproar. Everyone from a weapons manufacturer (Richard Dreyfuss) to the Vice President become suspects but it isn’t until the final moments that we discover just who the culprit is.
Along the way there are plenty of explosions, jokes and hand to hand combat moments that should keep Willis and action fans sitting on the edge of their seats. By the last reel you’ll find yourself wishing that the movie hadn’t ended and that another was on the way. Thank goodness the rumor mill has it that their planning a sequel.
The action is non-stop, the effects are top notch and the acting is some of the best I’ve seen. To me the best acting doesn’t involve the ability to simply say your lines in the most dramatic way possible. Instead, the best acting is when you completely forget the fact that you’re watching a movie, that the person performing is an actor and you totally believe that for two hours they ARE that person. Such are the performances by all involved here.
But best of all with this movie is the fact that for 111 minutes you are entertained. And in the long run isn’t that what it’s all about? No, this film will not find most involved nominated for any Oscars but the truth is that some of the most entertaining films made never do. Instead they find fans who watch the film over and over again. This is one of those movies, a film that I for one feel I could watch more than three times and never be bored with. And that makes it a movie worth watching.