I would be lying if I didn’t admit to be being a bit of a geek. It is because of this fact that I find myself sweating with anxiety every time I stumble across a situation where someone has deemed it a brilliant idea to make a comic book into a Tinseltown blockbuster. Sure, there have been situations where it turns out okay. American Splendor, Sin City and Ghost World are all great examples of this. But, for every Batman Begins that’s out there, there is also it’s ugly step brother, Batman Forever. Historically speaking, more comic books have been butchered than honored in Hollywood.
RED walks that line. Directed by Robert Schwentke, who was the mastermind behind Flightplan and The Time Traveler’s Wife one must wonder if the directing role was assigned properly. This is not necessarily because he possesses a lack of talent as a director. In fact, he is fairly skilled at turning literature into picture. However, this skill tends to come with a great deal of artistic liberties and changes to the original product. This tends to ring true in RED as well. The original edgy storyline somehow shifts to an action comedy once it hits the screen and characters seem to materialize from nowhere. I assume this is because the three part comic couldn’t fill two hours of movie.
However, this is not to say that RED doesn’t have some redeeming qualities. In fact, the cast itself supports justification for the cost of admission. Bruce Willis, channeling both his previous works of Die Hard and thirtysomething, plays retired C.I.A. agent Frank Moses convincingly. Managing to balance the characters tough and rugged outside appearance and sensitive and loving personality inside, Willis sells his crush on customer service rep Sarah, played by Mary-Louise Parker flawlessly. He quickly becomes not only the guy Parker wants to run away from, but the guy she also wants to run away with.
Run away together they do. Following an attack at Frank Moses’ home, he arrives in Kansas City where Sarah lives to protect her. He instead ends up kidnapping her. Their jaunts through several cities lead them to Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren, who all play retired C.I.A. agents. Highlighting how the elderly have adjusted to a life after killing, the tongue in cheek bits tend to be enough to carry the script through the dry spells where action is lacking. But with a supporting cast like this, how could you not implement a little sociology satire?
However, the action sequences themselves tend to leave a lot to be desired. While a few scenes are pretty epic (Willis and the spinning car and Mirren packing a pretty powerful machine gun), the movie for the most part tends to be pretty predictable and sometimes rather unbelievable. A fairly clear example of this is Morgan Freeman’s character Joe Matheson’s role in the film. At 80, Matheson is suffering from type 4 cancer, yet manages to keep up with the other characters at ease. Sure, he’s former C.I.A., but he’s certainly not invincible. So, I guess if you want a few laughs mixed with a few bombs thrown by an all-star cast, RED might be your flick. I mean, it could be worse. It could be The Expendables. But, if you want a realistic action piece, you might want to rethink this film.
I give RED 3 Stuffed Pigs out of 5
by Joshua Hammond