Thursday, 28 October 2010


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

1 comment:

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you! Went to see R.E.D. out of sheer boredom last week and while it cured my boredom for 2 hours, it certainly wasn't thrilling enough. I left the cinema feeling disappointed considering the big-star cast and budget they most likely had, as well as the fact that the comic books probably have alot more depth and fun involved. (Though I havent read them either, whoops!)

    If it weren't for the ease in which these actors play their roles, the flaws would have definitely been more obvious. But I took it all at spoof value and did enjoy watching Helen Mirren kick some ass. She stole the show for me, even Morgan Freeman seemed to be bored of his character's life until he got to dress up in that ridiculously awesome ambassador's uniform!

    But I do still fancy Bruce a bit, even with his cardboard acting and the fact that he seemed to show no real interest in his love-interest, Mary Louise Parker who it is worth noting, has great boobs... :D Yep.