Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"The cast are clearly having such an immense amount of fun you really can't help but join them."

The baby boomers have a blast in this latest in the recent string of films determined to prove that there's nothing retiring about older action heroes. Hot on the heels of The Expendables and The A-Team comes Robert Schwentke's film which proves, if nothing else, that getting old is certainly no barrier to having fun, at least not where this group of A-list actors are concerned.

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, a retired CIA black ops veteran who, just as his thoughts are turning to long-distance romance with telephonist Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), finds his old employers have categorised him RED - retired, extremely dangerous - and, for reasons that are not immediately clear, are hellbent on seeing him retire from breathing as well as their employ.

Copy picture

After assassins bearing a barage of bullets with his name on them shoot his suburban home to matchwood - in a scene so entertaining it's easy to forgive the fact that his neighbours appear to be stone deaf - he 'kidnaps' Sarah for her own good and starts to assemble his former gang of pals to find out what on earth is going on. It's not long before terminally-ill Joe (Morgan Freeman), paranoid-with-good-reason Marvin (John Malkovich) and the gorgeous-but-deadly-with-a-machine-gun Victoria (Helen Mirren) are enlisting the help of an old Russian 'frenemy' Ivan (Brian Cox, whose accent is Russian to Dundee) to find out what is rotten at the heart of the state. The only problem being that, while they are trying to find out what is happening, they also have to avoid being killed by CIA spook Cooper (Karl Urban).

The scenario may be as tried, tested and familiar as the veteran cast but there's plenty of spark to the scripting, particularly in the early scenes between Willis and Parker. He brings a pixieish charm to the world-weary Frank and Parker puts plenty of energy into Sarah, so that she always seems a match for Frank rather than just a throwaway love interest. The filmmakers know that some aspects of the plotting are cheesey and make a virtue out of this rather than trying to apologise.

The early action scenes are inventive, engaging and feature some of the most entertaining hails of bullets to grace our screens in a while, but sadly the early momentum doesn't quite carry through for the entire runtime. While a romantic subplot between Victoria and Ivan is emotionally satisfying to a point - and fleshes out their characters considerably - it slows the pace of the rest of the action. Still, the cast are clearly having such an immense amount of fun you really can't help but join them.

Reviewed on: 21 Oct 2010
Share this with others on...
Red packshot
A retired black ops agent is targeted by his old employer.
Amazon link

Director: Robert Schwentke

Writer: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Warren Ellis, Cully Hamner

Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Heidi von Palleske, Jefferson Brown, Karl Urban, Chris Owens, Rebecca Pidgeon, Morgan Freeman, Jaqueline Fleming, Randy Wade Kelley, Jason Giuliano, Alec Rayme, Lawrence Turner, Emily Kuroda, Joe Chrest

Year: 2010

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


Search database: