Capone declares that RED would need to be on steroids to even reach Average!!!
Published at: Oct. 15, 2010, 2:42 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey, folks. Capone in Chicago here.
The more I think about it, the more I truly dislike RED (which we're cleverly told stand for "Retired Extremely Dangerous"--ooooooh). I actually got into arguments with people about this movie at Fantastic Fest, a festival that is populated largely by folks who admire creativity and edgy works by remarkable filmmakers, both established and brand spanking new. Those who claimed to like RED seemed to come at me with this: "For what it is, it's pretty good." Okay, that's true... if what the film is boils down to unoriginal action sequences, unfunny jokes, and a paint-by-numbers plot, then yes, for what it is (shit), RED is pretty good (shit). Of course it's fun to see Helen Mirren holding a gun, John Malkovich playing monkey-shit crazy, and a great series of extended cameos from the likes of Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfus, and Brian Cox, but the film consistently fails to bring anything to life with these touches, and the resulting work is almost entirely devoid of sustained fun.
I like the premise and opening of RED. Retired CIA operative Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) lives a serene, quiet existence in which his biggest thrill is getting his government paycheck so he can call and report it missing just so he can talk to his favorite customer service rep Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), with whom he dreams of having a relationship. When he and his former co-workers are framed for an assassination, Frank rounds up his old (as in elderly) partners, including Mirren, an assassin; Malkovich, a weapons expert; and Morgan Freeman, whose expertise beyond dressing up and going undercover escapes me. Frank also thinks it's a good idea to round up Sarah because he's afraid his enemies will figure out that he has feelings for her and try to kill her as well. Karl Urban plays Agent Cooper, who has been assigned the task of finding and eliminating these hooligans. Let the standard-issue, cat-and-mouse game begin.
Part of my problem with RED is that it establishes that the age of these former agents is elevated, but doesn't ever really play with that. Would the second half of this movie have been any different if the one-time operative has been in the mid-40s? I don't see how it would.
"Hey, look. Helen Mirren has a long-range rifle."
"Whoop-dee-frickin'-do! What does she do with it?"
"She shoots it."
"Um, okay. And that's exciting outside of the trailer, why?"
"Well, it's like watching the Queen of England shoot a bazooka."
"Got it. Go fuck yourself."
And the hilarity continues from there. A big part of the problem is that Bruce Willis has the unenviable task of making me believe he gives a shit about being in this movie. He appears to be sleepwalking through 85 percent of this movie, coming alive just long enough to shoot a gun and run around a bit. His eyes are at about half mast for most of RED. Malkovich is probably my favorite part of this film, but I'm pretty sure the quality of his performance was achieved by simply ignoring everything director Robert Schwentke (FLIGHTPLAN, THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE) told him to do. Freeman is okay, but he's woefully underused, really only coming to life in a sequence when he gets to punch Dreyfuss in the face. But who among us wouldn't rise to the occasion to do that?
The primary thought racing through my brain as I watched RED was "I'm bored," except for the more optimistic moments watching the film when I thought, "It has to get better eventually." It doesn't. And if your expectations are sufficiently lowered, you may enjoy yourself. No, not every movie can be the best movie of the year, but why do we give a pass to those that don't even try to get past sounding great on paper? And anyone who begins their assessment of any film with the words, "For what it is..." needs to be slapped. It's not your job to make excuses for movies like RED, which squanders a killer cast, as well as a decent idea that's in desperate need of an overhaul. I feel confident that this movie will be the weekend's big box office winner, and that's because it's easy to digest and is in no way challenging. An audience shouldn't have to lower its expectations to enjoy any movie, from the highest-end drama to the lowest-brow comedy. Happy October. Hope you like crap. Why can't all movies try as hard as JACKASS 3D?
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