Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Red (2010)

Let's face it tastes do change.  One can go right off film stars once treasured -- Meg Ryan comes to mind with her latter day trout-pout and gratuitous nudity.  On the other hand, bete noires can morph into favourites -- like good old baldy Bruce Willis.  When he first came to the fore in the television series "Moonlighting", I couldn't stand the bumptious twit.  I also saw him again recently with a full head of hair in 1987's "Blind Date" with an out-of-control Kim Basinger, and didn't much reckon him there either.  But he has certainly mellowed with age -- as I suppose I have.

I can't say better about the above film other than it is great fun -- not particularly wonderful film-making, logically constructed, or even believable, but one doesn't worry about little things like that when one is enjoying a great cast who seem to be enjoying themselves as well.  Willis plays a retired CIA agent whose file is listed as "RED" (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) and his even older ex-cohorts and adversaries include Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Brian Glover (as an ex-Russian spy still besotted with Mirren.) Willis and the first three find themselves on the current Vice-President's 'hit list', as he needs to cover up some naughtiness from their joint past before announcing his presidential ambitions.  So they find themselves on the run from young CIA operatives Karl Urban and Rebecca Pidgeon and their armed hordes.  Add to the equation Willis' new love interest, Mary-Louise Parker, with whom he has, in his loneliness, struck up a telephone flirtation, unwittingly including her in the would-be purge.  Introduce to the ensemble a treacherous Richard Dreyfuss, a cameo from the now 95-year old Ernest Borgnine, and a blink-and-you-might-miss-it appearance by James Remar (Dexter's ghost-dad!) and the veteran casting is a delight.

Where to start?  Firstly it was great to see Parker again; I know she has been doing well in the TV series "Weeds" which isn't shown here, but it's been a while since I've seen her on the big screen.  I always think of her as one of the many 'double-barrelled' starlets that graced the 1990s: Mary-Stuart Masterton, Catherine-Mary Stewart, Penelope-Ann Miller, and even Sarah-Jessica Parker, whom I used to muddle one with the other, but she holds her own with the superb cast in this movie.  The film is full of shoot-outs and double-dealing, and it is enormous fun to see 'The Queen'  Mirren handling a sub-machine gun.  However greatest praise must be reserved for Malkovich who plays a goofy brain-fried die-hard and who is far more relaxed here than he was in his more serious, early 'actorly' roles.  Finally, Willis remains good value as he marshals his cohorts and bristles when Urban refers to him as 'Grandpa'; there's plenty of spunk in the old guy yet.  It's a geriatric romp to savour.

The film is far from an award-seeking candidate, but it certainly makes for a grand evening out! 
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