Tag Archives: Morgan Freeman

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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Trailer Thursday: Red

24 Jun

The A-Team, The Expendables and now Red…there is a new genre of movies emerging this summer, the buddy-comedy/team-action film. But this one’s got Helen “The Queen” Mirren with an uzi.

Back in November, aka the safe season for the melanin deficient, I wrote a post extolling the awesomeness of the graphic novel “Red” and how it was set for a film adaptation. See Bruce Willis Kicking Ass post. Now we’ve got our first look at the final product in a trailer that was released earlier this week.

But to review Red is about a retired CIA operative (Willis) fighting his way through a horde of agency assassins. It’s a gritty and graphic short run comic that has a 300 violent flavor, with a classic action hero story line.  Director Robert Schwentke (The Time Travelers Wife) and his writers seem to have taken it in a more comic direction, and after watching the trailer I don’t think anyone will be complaining, but with a cast that includes: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Richard Dreyfuss, how could you?

Invictus Review

10 Dec

The latest installment of Clint Eastwood’s late career run, Invictus is the story of South Africa’s struggle with racial tensions and a new national identity, set against the backdrop of the Rugby World cup.  It is not a sports movie, there is very little emotional suspense built through the rugby matches themselves. Rather the film is an examination of the uniting power of national sports competitions, in the politically turbulent post-apartheid era of Nelson Mandela.

Morgan Freeman carries the film with an oscar worthy performance as the idealistic and conciliatory Mandela, balancing white fears against newly found power. Freedman and Eastwood display Mandela as a humanist peacemaker, whose concern for rugby is born from his desire to unite the nation under a common interest. Enter Francois Pienaar, captain of the springbok (named so for their green and yellow uniforms), played somewhat unevenly by Matt Damon. 

While the focus of the film is squarely on Mandela, Piennaar has a significant supporting role and Damon’s sometimes Australian with a hint of Irish turned British accent doesn’t match Freeman’s superior performance.  But that is really the problem of Invictus, it’s a steady and methodical film carried by Freedman with everything else not equalling his performance.

That being said, you’ll find yourself enveloped in the inspiring story telling and moved by the harsh realities of South African life in the 90’s. The climatic match against the All-Blacks of New Zealand, brought cheers and boughts of clapping from the audience, despite the lack of athletic drama.

Though at times oddly paced with unclear story direction, Eastwood takes the reins with a straight forward style that seems to reflect his early roles in the Fist Full of Dollar’s trilogy. On the whole Invictus is a solid film that lives up to its billing, but it won’t be this year’s oscar standout.

Starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Julian Lewis Jones, Adjoa Andoh, Patrick Mofokeng. Directored by Clint Eastwood, off the Anthony Peckham script; based on the book “Playing the Enemy” by John Carlin. Produced by: Clint Eastwood, Lori McCreary, Robert Lorenz. Warner Bros. Running time: 134 minutes.

Check out Red – Bruce Willis Kicking Ass and Taking Names

19 Nov

Imagine the Bourne Identity meets Taken, with Bruce Willis as the Matt Damon – Liam Neeson kick ass and take names character. That is Red.

Based on the Warren Ellis (GI Joe Resolute) written 3 issue comic, grittingly illustrated by Cully Hammer (Mallrats-artwork), Red is a collision of realist violence and good ol’ fashion whoop ass.  Willis will play Paul Moses, a CIA hitman in retirement trying to handle the horrors he’s done in the service of his country. Newly appointed CIA Director, uncast but most likely John C. Rielly (Step Brother), wants to clean house and Moses is at the top of the list. But when the first team of assassins fails, Moses goes Jason Bourne on the CIA, tracking them down and showing them the monster that was asleep for so long.

The story is a little thin, and short, but with alot of room to build on. When you read the comic you get hit with the whole story in under 76 heavily illustrated pages. It’s basic, but effective. Most of the characters are created in the illustrations and through the violence, rather than the see-spot-run dialogue. oh and there is violence, enough to make you think that this should be a  Quentin Tarantino movie.

But this is why you should be excited about Red’s prospects – Morgan Freeman, John C. Reilly, Helen Miren (The Queen), Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws), Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremecy and X-Men 2), Ernst Borgnine (everything for the last 50 years), Julian McMahon (Fantastic Four and Nip/Tuck) and Mary Louise Parker (Weeds) , headed by Bruce Willis under the Direction of Robert Schwentke (The Time Travelers Wife). By my count that’s 4 Oscar winners supporting Die Hard with help from a few Golden Globe/Emmy/Oscar nominees. Not to bad for a comic book adaptation movie, that’s whole premise is violence with more violence wrapped in violence.

The movie is currently pre-production, and is slated to start filming on January 11th, 2010; release date a year from now. I’m not saying that this movie is going to blow the doors off the oscars at all, but it’s probably going to be pretty awesome…but also good. Which is pretty rare these days. You either get Michael Bay’s awesome with a side of Megan Fox; or Daniel Day-Lewis on a four hour journey into depression.  Maybe this time we can just get a good ol’ fashion serving of whoop ass in between slices of quality film making.

Find Red at a comic store near you, if you live in Boston or Massachusetts go to the Comic Stop in Watertown, they are good people there.