Imagine how much better On Golden Pond would have been if Henry Fonda had a grenade under his hat and an AK-47 lying in the bottom of his canoe? Geezer City is prospering in Hollywood, as aging stars step into Retired, Extremely Dangerous (RED) roles and shoot their way across America.
One Word Movie Review: GOOD
RED is a pleasant “smirk and shotgun” paranoia caper starring the cream of Geezer City’s high-class residents. This is the year of the aging action star, building on The Expendables ensemble formula, as in “if one star is good, three are better”. In this case, Bruce Willis heads up an experienced acting core including John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman. A dream cast for a comic book story about black-ops hit squads clearing the skeletons out of the mass graves so the next Presidential candidate can sleep a little easier. Guess what? They picked the wrong geezers to eliminate!
Willis plays a retired agent chatting up a pension clerk (Mary-Louise Parker as the cubicle chick) over the phone while two hit squads prepare for a full frontal assault on his suburban home. From there, we jump to about fifty different locations while Willis figures out who is behind all the killing. He enlists his old band of fellow agents while Mary-Louise tags along, looking for some excitement beyond the padded walls of her pension office.
The best bits of RED are the personal banter between the retirees and the casual application of their veteran skills against their CIA opponents, all much younger and greener and always overmatched. The boring bits are the big action set pieces which bring nothing new to the genre, unlike The Expendables.
We learn the back stories of the geezers as they are drawn into the battle by RED-filed Willis. His “RED” file (RED stands for Retired – Extremely Dangerous) is heavily censored because of all the highly-sensitive work he did for the CIA. Morgan Freeman is wasted in the film while Malkovich is loopy as a LSD-overdosed recluse with a peculiar paranoid ideology. Mirren plays the master of “wet work” and the deadliest shot of the bunch, as well as a bedside nurse when needed.
There isn’t an edge to the film, just a “been there, done that” vibe as the wily vets take on the entire CIA and Secret Service forces with ease. The bad guys seem to be following orders without questions and the final denouement is a let-down. However, intricate plots and real jeopardy for the main characters are not what this comic book story is all about. Audiences enjoy watching the geezers kick butt and walk away while the young turks shrug and stare dumbfounded at being flummoxed by old dog trickery.