Red a refreshing action-comedy

Article Published: Oct. 21, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Red a refreshing action-comedy

Richard Dreyfuss, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Bruce Willis star in Red.

Bruce Willis shooting things doesn't really scream original.

It is, however, a solid bet, and a stellar cast and stylish direction make Red more colorful than the rest.

Autumn's typically no season for popcorn movies, but Red makes for an enjoyable snack. It's nothing new, but it knows not to take itself seriously, while offering viewers an action-packed menu of humor and familiarity.

Directed by Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler's Wife), Red comes across as Die Hard meets Ocean's 11, over-the-top adventure with a shiny, yet effective, presentation.

While most action movies pass off its aging stars as viable heroes (like Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables), Red celebrates their age and works it into the story.

Willis (Die Hard) is Frank Moses, a retired CIA black-ops operative who's had trouble adjusting to his so-called golden years. Trading his service weapon for a pension check, his only delight comes from telephone conversations with pension worker Sarah (Mary Louise Parker, Showtime's Weeds).

This changes, for Frank's better and Sarah's worse, when he's labeled RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous). After a shootout at his suburban homestead, Frank leaves town to rescue Sarah, fearing their extended (and flirtatious) conversations may have placed her in harm's way.

Needless to say, they did, and Frank and Sarah find themselves on the run from dogged CIA agent Cooper (Karl Urban, Star Trek). Fortunately, Frank's not without friends.

With the help of former (and RED) agents Joe (Morgan Freeman, Invictus), Marvin (John Malkovich, Being John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren, The Queen), Frank sets out to clear their names and discover why they need clearing in the first place.

Turns out there's a conspiracy afoot, involving the Vice President (Julian McMahon, TV's Nip/Tuck) and a shady military contractor (Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws), and Frank and his cohorts are some of the only living witnesses.

Like I said, Red isn't very original, but it's quite enjoyable.

And most importantly, the cast has a literal blast in their roles, particularly Malkovich as the paranoid (but effectively deadly) Marvin, for whom the conspiracy is a delusion come true.

Mirren charms as Victoria, and, granted, there's a certain appeal to seeing her blast villains with a machine gun, even if it was plastered all over Red's many trailers.

Freeman fits his surprisingly brief role like a glove, while Parker is delightful as the beleaguered Sarah.

Then there's Willis, who takes the role perfectly in stride and with tongue planted firmly in cheek. It's a role he's played countless times before, but this time he's well aware of it.

And so is Schwentke, presenting Red as an old-school action-comedy befitting of its old-school cast - actual stunts, steady cinematography and well-timed one-liners - all rolled into a neat, pleasantly silly package.

Red, rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

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