Film Review: Red

Starring: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker
Director: Robert Schwentke
Summit Entertainment
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language

Bruce Willis has been starring in action films for over twenty years, and based on his latest entry to the genre, he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. His latest film, Red, is a slick, stylized action comedy featuring an all-star cast of Hollywood legends. Based on the DC comics mini-series of the same name, Red tantalizes and stimulates they eyes with a barrage of action, gun-play, and explosions. Red is now available on VUDU to own and to rent in SD, HD, and HDX.

Bruce Willis stars as Frank Moses, a retired black ops CIA agent who spends his twilight years leading a mundane life. His only source of interaction is with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service rep who handles his retirement pension. They develop a friendship, even promising to meet up one day. When Frank suddenly becomes marked for death by his own government, he uses his superior skills and tactics to escape. He meets up with Sarah, believing their conversations have somehow led to his being targeted. She dismisses him as crazy, so he’s forced to abduct her to protect her. Frank soon realizes that the hit on him goes back to his past and an operation from the 1980s. With the help of his closest friends and allies (Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox), Frank vows to uncover the truth behind his death sentence and stop the overly eager agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) from taking him down.

Red comes off as big surprise given the casting decisions. The supporting cast consists of no less than four Academy Award winners, actors who are noted for their serious and dramatic work over that last forty years. Given the gravitas these actors bring with them, it’s bewildering to know what even drew them to the project. However, their history as dramatic actors brings an added level of humor to this action comedy. It is clear that these actors are having fun with the material, making the film that much more enjoyable. Bruce Willis, of course, is no stranger to action comedies, but to see Helen Mirren firing a mounted machine gun, Morgan Freeman impersonate a foreign general, and John Malkovich play an uber-paranoid nut is a thing of beauty.

The action and stunts at play here are mesmerizing to watch. Bruce Willis casually stepping out of a spinning car or Willis and Urban’s all-out office brawl are some of the high points in this action heavy flick. Given the physically demanding work of Red, Bruce Willis shows no sign of letting his age slow him down. He can still hold his own with the best of them. Karl Urban, also no stranger to action, exhibits some impressive moves and stunt work, as well. Most surprising, however, is to watch cast members Helen Mirren and John Malkovich blasting guns, running around, and getting into harm’s way. They fit into their action personas effortlessly, making the movie all the more slick and fun.

Earlier this month, Summit Entertainment commissioned Red screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber to begin work on a sequel. After becoming an unexpected hit (it earned over $164 million at the worldwide box office) and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture in the Comedy/Musical category (don’t worry guys, it’s definitely a comedy), a sequel to Red seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. But while a script is in the works, none of the stars or the director have signed on to a sequel. Red is such a fun-filled, action-packed movie that to not have the original stars back would be a shame. Who would have thought that a handful of aging Hollywood legends would be such a hot commodity for the action-comedy genre? Here’s hoping that all the pieces will eventually fall into place.


John C. Reilly was originally cast as Marvin, but dropped out before filming, and was replaced by John Malkovich. The role of Victoria was originally considered for Meryl Streep.