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Philly2Philly Reviews 'RED' starring Bruce Willis and John Malkovich


You should go see RED. You would thoroughly enjoy it. Yes, really. You would.Bruvce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker in "Red"  Photo: http://media.daemonsmovies.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Red-Movie-11-550x366.jpg

For those of you who take more convincing, read on. The spy-action-comedy (spactioney?) RED is a fun, Elmore Leonard-esque jaunt across the country that just so happens to involve a lot of people getting shot in various ways.

 It’s based on a comic book, but to the chagrin of a small group of petulant individuals, it uses the book more as inspiration and wildly diverges from it, tongue in cheek the entire time. The cast and director had a lot of fun making this movie, and it shows.

Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, a retired CIA operative. His new life is quiet and boring, but he can’t seem to really put down the proverbial roots (or grow plants, for that matter). He occupies his time by calling Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a comely help-desk operator that handles his retirement payments. These conversations are frequent, because he persists in calling, and keeps tearing up the replacement checks that she sends.

Then one night, he’s targeted for assassination. He kidnaps her and starts on a journey to find out the specifics; who wants him dead, what can he do, and why. The rest of the movie progresses in predictable, clockwork fashion. But because you know the timetable, you’re able to let loose, and enjoy the fun the cast brings to the screen. John Malkovich is particularly delightful to watch – not because he plays a fellow retiree who’s only got a few cards left in the deck, but because his retiree is absolutely, totally convinced he’s sane, despite his blatant insanity.

The others – Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and Brian Cox – also enjoy themselves, as does Ms. Parker. It seems the only actor who’s not allowed to have a little fun is Karl Urban, who plays a doggedly stubborn CIA agent serving as Willis’s straight-laced foil. After his slightly comedic turn in Star Trek, he feels under-used here. Willis, on the other hand, is living it up as Frank Moses. It’s the most enjoyable he’s been in any action movie since The Fifth Element.

The directing and camerawork, to me, was seamless – working equally well with action scenes as it did with comedic timing. Dialogue was brief, which gave the actors a lot of room to play around. In this case, it paid off very well. The special effects were also used in a fun, playful way, which adds to the generally light-hearted tone of the production. However, there are some dark moments, which do lend the borderline goofy RED an air of gravity – and made it all the more fun to watch.

In summation, you should go see RED. You would thoroughly enjoy it. Yes, really. You would.

Grade: A-

Contact Brian Lynch at blynch@philly2philly.com

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