RED: Unfinished Goodness

13 Aug

You really can’t go wrong having Helen Mirren play a machine gun wielding assassin alongside Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich. Add in Weed’s star Mary-Louise Parker and Star Trek’s Karl “Bones” Urban, and you’ve got a movie stew worth boiling.

Based very loosely on the short-run graphic novel by Warren Ellis, Red is the story of Frank Moses (Willis) a retired CIA assassin who has been ordered killed for reasons of national security. For fans of the DC comic- don’t get to attached to the story; screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber added a gang of fellow assassins and a subplot of national intrigue to go along with the basic one-man army versus story line.

The film though obeys rule #1 of adapting a previous work into a  movie: stay true to the primary themes of the book, play, TV show, whatever. In this case RED is all about killing. Ostentatious, over the top action that is simply entertaining. Despite the cast this isn’t a deep introspective look at the life of a retired CIA agent trying to cope with the boredom of a normal life, although that is the starting point of the film. However, as soon as the bad guys show up it’s just about kicking ass and taking names.

Basically what I’m saying is that just because Helen “The Queen” Mirren is in it doesn’t mean it’s going to be an Academy Award nominated film. Unless they add an action category. But there is something enjoyable about watching John Malkovich, who plays the LSD mind control experiment gone wrong -Marvin Bogs, hold a giant revolver to a woman he is convinced is following him, all the while grasping tightly to a stuffed pig. It’s just one of those things you never knew was on your cinema bucket list until it happened.

The only problem with seeing the first cut of a film, almost 2 months before its release date, is that it’s very unfinished and clearly missing a few important scenes. The film jumps from Willis’s house in Cleveland being destroyed in a hale of poorly aimed gun fire to Mary-Louise Parker’s apartment half way across the country, where he lays out several aspects of the story that were unexplained in the transition.

Director Robert Schwentke took a Guy Ritchie-esque approach to the shoot-em up scenes that quickly transition into witty banter and plot development. The scenes cut quickly from location to location as Willis attempts to uncover who ordered he and his friends  dead, while keeping Sarah (Parker), the love interest, alive.  One moment Victoria (Mirren) is clipping flowers and making lunch, the next she’s having “girl time” with Sarah (Parker) with a high-tech scope on her M16.

Clearly, some of the fast paced scene movement is part of the intended style and at first you just think you missed something when you looked down at your popcorn.  Then you realize that the crosses in the rear window of the car chase scene are left-overs from the green screen, and it all comes together. But that doesn’t detract from what is on the whole a very entertaining action-comedy flick that is definitely worth looking forward to.

Directed by Robert Schwentke from the script written by Erich and Jon Hoeber, based on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis. Starring: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, Hellen Mirren, Brian Cox and John Malkovich with appearances by Ernst Borgnine and Richard Dreyfuss. A DC Entertainment production.


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