Movie Review 11/11/10
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary Louise-Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
“Life begins at 60” has, for a long time, sounded like a pithy excuse to keep the elderly in the workforce and deny them their pension. However, there are some who get more badass with age. Just a couple of months earlier there were The Expendables, a gang of soldiers who had seemingly past their prime but could still do some serious damage. Giving Stallone and co. a run for their money are the team from RED, which stands for “Retired; Extremely Dangerous”. And there is ample proof that those two terms are not mutually exclusive at all.
Frank Moses (Willis), once one of the CIA’s best agents, has settled into a mundane routine in suburban Cleveland. Moses is nurturing a relationship-by-telephone with Sarah (Louise-Parker), a customer service agent from his pension office, and decides to go down to Kansas to see her.
Frank is assaulted in his home by a squad of heavily-armed mercenaries, and is made fully aware that his past has caught up with him, and that the CIA has decided to silence him and anyone else who was witness to war crimes committed in Guatemala. The young(er) and ruthlessly efficient agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is tasked with taking Frank out.
Sarah is swept up into the whole mess as Frank hops around the country to reassemble his former teammates, a motley crew of similarly-retired and similarly-dangerous characters. There’s Joe (Morgan Freeman), disappointed with life in a nursing home, Marvin (Malkovich), delusional, unhinged but still a sharp operative and Victoria (Mirren), on the surface a genteel and proper elderly lady but a lethal marksman, with some assistance from Ivan (Brian Cox), a former KGB agent and rival.
It turns out that the team have uncovered a far-reaching conspiracy involving the Vice-President of the United States (Julian McMahon) and wealthy arms-dealer Alexander Dunning (Richard Dreyfuss). And anybody standing in their way had best get out or be prepared to feel a lot of pain.
To approach the film from a literary standpoint, its core theme seems to be about rediscovering youth. The two love story subplots, the first between Frank and Sarah and the second between two other characters (I won’t spoil it for you) feel like teenage crushes, puppy love almost, with the gunfights and fisticuffs keeping them from becoming cloying or saccharine. Marvin’s LSD-induced antics seem amusingly juvenile, like that of a crazy stoned youngster. And nobody does unhinged like John Malkovich, believe you me.
RATING: 4.5/5 STARS
Jedd Jong Yue