Red Movie Review: Bruce Willis Into Rowdy Espionage


Switching sides in movies as he moves on from The Expendables to those equally over-the-hill undercover hotheads in Robert Schwentke’s Red, Bruce Willis is still into assembling an elder ragtag team in his latest high octane outing, that is less about belligerent bragging rights, than generation gap self-parody. And even if the new Willis posse counting Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and yes, Helen Mirren may not project quite the same surly star power as The Expendables’ Stallone, Rourke, Jet Li, Lundgren, Arnie and Statham, they’re on the other hand, mostly just kidding.

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses in Red, a retired black-ops CIA agent with only a withered avocado on a toothpick sprouting some leaves on his kitchen table for company. Lonely as hell, Moses is also cultivating a PG kind of phone sex crush on his not exactly unreceptive assigned pension service worker Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) by regularly ripping up his retirement checks and dialing her up for replacements. The unrequited lovebirds are likewise reading the same romance novels at bedtime simultaneously, in some sort of perverse unusually prolonged instance of celibate desire.

But when the agency decides one day for an as yet unrevealed reason that Moses is indeed expendable, they send a team of assassins in a home invasion operation. Which Moses has no problem deflecting while in his bathrobe, with a couple of radically silly superpowers.

Sensing by now that he’s being targeted for the afterlife, the equally brainy and brawny bald former operative moves out quickly without taking his furniture, in a heated bid to confront and neutralize the unseen enemy by reassembling his former covert team – including Joe (Freeman) stuck in a nursing home with stage 4 liver cancer and Marvin (Malkovich), turned paranoid psycho survivalist. And with the addition of a resistant Sarah (she suspects his CIA confessional is just a seduction ploy), whose life he assesses is in guilt by association equally imminent danger, even if she doesn’t. Not to mention that the disappointed white collar hottie was hoping that her eventual knight in shining armor ‘would have more hair.’

Surfacing along the way is White House subterfuge that might be labeled as movie subheading, All The Vice-President’s Men, and linked to a supremely shady war crimes coverup in Guatemala. In any case, none of this hardly matters in a comic book satire based on the Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer DC Comics cult fave, and not taking a bit of its own delightfully lunatic raucous action thriller pandemonium seriously.

Summit Entertainment

Rated PG-13

3 stars