Red (Review)

High-profile cast can't save this cliched snooze

Oct 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Here's another pound of cautionary proof supporting the theorem that "story is about thoroughness, not shortcuts." Director Robert Shwentke's adaptation of a DC Comics action/comedy graphic novel is nothing but a series of creaky narrative half-steps. The result leaves no cohesive story in which an audience can invest.

Bruce Willis plays a lonely retired CIA operative named Frank Moses. He strikes up a fluffy phone romance with Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), a young government clerk whom Frank often calls to report his undelivered Social Security checks. Frank secretly tears them up as an excuse to keep calling Sarah.

An assassination attempt against Frank alerts him that he and his fellow retired CIA hit-men pals, Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren), are being targeted. The culprit is a black-ops kill squad seeking revenge for a falsified assassination attempt the old-school outfit supposedly committed many moons ago. Behind the kill order is CIA black widow Cynthia Wilkes (Rebecca Pidgeon) and her physically intimidating underling Will Cooper (Karl Urban).

After kidnapping Sarah — for safety of course — Frank takes her on a cross-country road trip. Frank rousts Joe from a nursing home and meets up with trigger-fingers Marvin and Victoria, who also know a thing or two about automatic assault weapons. Malkovich's Marvin is the loose screw of the group, thanks to 11 years of daily LSD testing.

Naturally, our team of elderly assassins must break into CIA headquarters in order to extract top secret files that will exonerate them — should they live that long.

There's nothing distinctive or original about this puddle-jumping shoot-'em-up action movie. Even the razzle-dazzle is a snooze.Grade: D-plus

Opens Oct. 15. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.