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October 15, 2010
Review - " R.E.D. "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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But the tedium of Frank's retired life is shattered one night when a so-called "wet team" of shadowy, black-masked assassins
shows up and shoots his ticky-tacky tract house into a pile of smoldering splinters. Frank falls back on his old spook ways,
disappearing underground and showing up across country at Sarah's house, convinced that whoever is trying to kill him will
inevitably go after her.

Soon, Frank and the reluctant, disbelieving Sarah are on the lam and dodging the dogged efforts of hotheaded CIA assassin
William Cooper (Karl Urban) to eliminate them, with extreme prejudice.

In a map-hopping sequence of funny reunions, Frank tracks down a colorful cadre of former spy cohorts: Morgan Freeman's
wily old nursing home denizen, Joe; John Malkovich's rabidly paranoid recluse, Marvin; and Helen Mirren's elegant sniper
turned happy homemaker, Victoria.

Throw into the mix a cunning old Russian spymaster (Brian Cox) with romantic designs on Victoria, a crotchety old
secrets-keeper in the CIA's deepest vaults (Ernest Borgnine) and a megalomaniacal military contractor (Richard Dreyfuss)
with dastardly ties to the ambitious U.S. vice president, and you have a fairly generic recipe for an explosive, action-filled
espionage thriller with a bloody sense of humor.

The screenwriters spin all the elements with cutting-edge cool, and director Robert Schwentke ("Flightplan") orchestrates the
unlikely merger of action, comedy and tart romance with solid craft and an invigorating sense of fun.

While "Red" doesn't blaze any new trails in its well-trod genre, it does step lively with a great cast working at the top of their
games. Willis, all smirks and wisecracks, is the consummate old pro at this sort of thing. Malkovich, with his weirdness and
doughy physicality; Mirren with her steely elegance; Freeman with his wizened world-weariness; and Parker with her
screwball sense of comedy quirkiness - all make this gang of past-their-prime spies seem like ready-for-prime-time players.
R.E.D. (Retired.  Extremely Dangerous.)
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Starring: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, John
Malkovich, Morgan Freeman,
Richard Dreyfuss.

Maybe they're rusty relics of the 007 days, when the espionage game
seemed to be played with a sly wink by operatives on both sides of the
Iron Curtain. But the retired secret agents of the revved-up "Red"
prove that there is still loads of firepower and dark humor in their
over-the-hill spy craft.

Adapted and expanded from a dark, violent, 66-page DC Comics
graphic novel by Warren Ellis, "Red" comes to the screen with an
all-star cast and a tongue-in-cheek attitude that makes its explosive
mayhem and ever-mounting body count seem like an entertaining lark.

The story follows a template set by "Charade," the classic 1963 Audrey
Hepburn-Cary Grant romp, expanded on by "Romancing the Stone,"
the 1984 Michael Douglas-Kathleen Turner gambol, and played out by
rote with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in last summer's "Knight and
Day." As per formula, a naive damsel is thrown together with a cool
man of the world, whose motives are vaguely sinister, and sets off on a
hair-raising, bullet-riddled, chase-filled duel with shadowy villains.

"Red" opens with a vision of the mundane suburban retirement of
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a former CIA spook, who battles his
boredom by striking up a long-distance telephone flirtation with Sarah
Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), a chatty help-desk operator at a
government retirement bureau.
Red is the coolest installment in the ages
old battle between old and young,
experience and wanna-be-ism, and pure
against-the-tide rebellion.  

Red is jammed with sly pokes at the young
as it celebrates elder hipsterism and
competence, and in this market, in these
times, it’s really risky.  Fortunately, it is a
grand slam. Red is a treat, an anti-popular
wisdom action film for oldies, about oldies.

They don’t make them like that anymore, to
quote Ernest Borgnine’s records keeper.  
More truthfully, they never did, and it took
a lot of heart to move into these uncharted
territories.  Ageing will never look the same
again in the movies at least.  And
youngsters will be smitten too.