After seeing Red, the new action comedy based on the comic book series of the same name, I just have six words on the tip of my tongue: Helen Mirren is one hot grandma. I know people who are 65 years old, just like Mirren, who look like they’re already have one foot in their casket, whereas Mirren could don a bikini and turn heads at the beach. But let’s be honest, Helen Mirren isn’t just a pretty face and a hot body. Not even close. She’s a veteran of at least 60 films and countless stage and television performances. Anyone who saw The Queen knows Mirren, who was actually born in 1945 as IIyena Vasilievna Mironov, can stand toe-to-toe with the best female leads.
And that’s just one of the stars in Red. The cast is somewhat of a mini acting Dream Team, if you ask me. You’ve got Mirren, of course, and she’s followed by Bruce Willis (Live Free or Die Hard), Mary-Louise Parker (cable television’s Weeds), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), John Malkovich (Burn After Reading), Julian McMahon (The Fantastic Four), Ernest Borgnine (The Poseidon Adventure), Richard Dreyfuss (W.), Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity) and Karl Urban (The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers). Alright, maybe it’s not exactly a Dream Team, but that’s a nice mix of notables and familiar faces. And, for the most part, they succeed. Red is a fun movie.
I have a theory that seems reasonable, but isn’t, at the present moment, quantifiable. My supposition is this: Every story, in this case film, is rooted in one emotion that every person, adult and child, longs for in some way, shape, form or fashion. That emotion is love. Think about it for a minute. Everyone wants to be accepted and loved and I dare you to find a movie that doesn’t cling to that hypothesis even just a smidgen. Red, for that matter, is no different. The main thrust of the story is regarding a retired CIA operative who simply wants to live a normal life and runaway to Chile with the love of his life. Everything else in the movie just orbits that one goal.
The retired CIA agent is one Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and he’s in love with a call center operator, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), whom he finds reason to call each week by feigning non-delivery on his government-issued pension checks. They talk like high school boyfriend and girlfriend on the phone about travel, gardening and the crappy romance novels Sarah and Frank both read. For Sarah, it’s an fantasy escape from the tedium that is her life, and for Frank, it is the same, an escape into a hopeful future where he has a happy ending and where his past is not remembered. Sadly, that past blows the front of Frank’s house off with explosives and machine gun fire in an attempt to assassinate him. Frank, being a little wilier than the senior citizen retiree he’s taken for, dispatches the team with ease and sets off to alert his R.E.D (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) pals from days gone by.
Sarah is the first person Frank picks up, somewhat against her will, but soon she discovers she’s living the life of espionage and, almost, romance that she’s dreamed about. The duo head to New Orleans to warn Joe (Morgan Freeman) that somebody has a hit list of ex-CIA special agents. They travel to Alabama to pick up an extremely smart and unbelievably cuckoo agent named Marvin (John Malkovich), and later in the movie they link up with the lovely Victoria (Helen Mirren), who appears Martha Stewart on the outside, but is a certifiable bad ass behind her flower arrangements and afternoon tea. Little by little, the group puts the puzzle pieces together and discovers they are being targeted so some big wigs in Washington DC can fully erase their past sins and misdeeds, particularly ones in Guatemala in 1981.
Red is fun, action-packed movie that stands out because of the camaraderie and charisma between the cast. The story isn’t particularly original, but its delivery is done well, particularly by John Malkovich. Like Burn After Reading and many other movies before that, Malkovich steals the show and is absolutely believable as the elevator-doesn’t-stop-on-all-floors loony CIA agent, Marvin. He’s just one of the many reasons Red is definitely worth the full-price ticket and something you should catch at the theater this weekend.