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The Independent Critic

Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Ernest Borgnine, John Malkovich
Robert Schwentke
Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber, Warren Ellis (Story/Characters), Cully Hamner (Illustration)
Rated PG-13
111 Mins.
Summit Entertainment
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Access Red: Immersive 6-part interactive feature including pop up trivia, videos, interviews and more
CIA Exposed
Audio Commentary with retired CIA Field Officer Robert Baer

 "Red" Review 
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Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIA's top agents. Now, they know too much and they've become the agency's top targets.

Better than one could possibly expect from the film's bland and lifeless trailers, Red is a light and breezy action comedy about a group of aging CIA agents who are targeted for assassination and must head out on a cross-country jaunt to break into the "super secret" CIA headquarters where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in the government's history.

Sound predictable?

It is.

Sound boring?

For the most part, it's not.

The truth here is that despite the script's rather formulaic nature and director Robert Schwentke's low-key direction, the leading quartet of actors here seem to be having a good time with it all and, as a result, so does the audience.

Red is a rarity, an action comedy where both the action and the comedy frequently work and where the casting actually seems to have been given quite a bit of thought . Chemistry and comedy are high here, and while there's nothing going on that will stay with you much past the closing credits this is likely not a couple hours you'll end up regretting giving away.

Surprisingly, the real joy here is watching 93-year-old Ernest Borgnine kick ass and take names here. He doesn't so much steal every scene he's in from the more than able leading cast as he simply says "Hey, remember me? I'm still here and I'm still damn good."

Yep, he is. If you've been watching the indie scene over the past few years, you've likely noticed Borgnine popping up in smaller projects here and there and leaving a powerful screen presence wherever he goes. The actor, who is likely either known to you for his unforgettable performance in Marty or his work in the much lighter McHale's Navy, is simply a delight here and it is memories of his performance that have lingered the most for this critic.

Based on a DC Comics series created by Warren Ellis, Red (Retired Extremely Dangerous) leaps away from the all too often patronizing approach Hollywood takes with its aging yet revered stars who've garnered just enough star power to stick around. Rather than goofball comedies or death-themed bucket list flicks, Red proves given the right material and the right star cinematic sparks can still fly.

Willis is kinda sorta front and center as Frank, a bit of a lonely retired agent taken to ripping up his pension checks as an excuse to contact file clerk Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker). Freeman's Joe is a bit more settled, living in a retirement community yet game for one more big adventure while Marvin, in a role that Malkovich was practically born to play, is completely unhinged after years of LSD experiments with the agency. Victoria? You'll just have to see where the classy yet edgy Helen Mirren takes us.

Red is mostly eye and ear candy (Does that even make sense? "Ear candy?") for the moviegoer seeking a breezy, light and relatively mindless couple of hours of entertainment with interesting characters played by talented actors giving it all they have and turning the film into a far better film than one might expect going into it.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic