Elliot Hyams reviews Bruce Willis’s latest film.
R.E.D is the acronym given by the C.I.A to retired agents still considered to be extremely dangerous, it is also the name of the new Bruce Willis action flick. Based on a D.C comic and directed by Robert Schwentke, watching this film felt a lot like meeting your best friend’s new girlfriend, you want to like her, and she seems nice enough, but you can’t escape the niggling feeling that he could probably do better. Featuring a cast of fantastic actors including John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, and Richard Dreyfus, this tale of a group of elderly assassins getting the band together one last time to fight off a threat from the agency never really fulfils on its promise. The problem is it just isn’t as much fun as it should be, the action isn’t exciting enough, the comedy isn’t funny enough, and Bruce appears to completely sleepwalk through his performance to the point where the viewer forgets that this man was John McClane.
The love story between Willis’s retired assassin and Mary Louise Parker’s bored phone operator never really catches the viewer’s attention and pales in comparison to the delightful sub plot of forbidden love between M.I.6 agent Mirren and K.G.B operative Cox. In fact, it is the supporting cast that saves the film, particularly a fantastic performance from Malkovich who has shown in films like Con Air and Burn After Reading that he is more than capable of not taking himself too seriously and just having fun in silly films. In the role of Marvin, a paranoid ex operative who was subjected to three decades of L.S.D testing, Malkovich is the glue that holds this film together. Similarly Brian Cox and Helen Mirren seem to be greatly enjoying themselves, even Richard Dreyfus appears to be having a great time as the deliberately hammy villain of the piece, screaming “I’m the bad guy!” in a way absent from cinema since the reign of Tony Montana.
So if all these actors are having such a great time on screen why didn’t I have just as much fun watching it? Like the equally flawed Die Hard 4, R.E.D is a film made up of set pieces rather than a steady flow of enjoyable action, and most of these set pieces appeared in the trailer. Ultimately if you are seeking out a no brainer slice of popcorn viewing on a Friday night you could do a lot worse than watching R.E.D, you may even enjoy it, but it is unlikely that you will remember it. Not having read the graphic novel I am unable to say if it is a truthful adaptation, but even so you can’t help but shake the feeling that with such a great supporting cast so much more could have been done with this film. It is the very definition of action by the numbers and whilst it will certainly get a few laughs from the audience it ultimately leaves them feeling unsatisfied.
Review by Elliot Hyams