Itís hard to come by a good, genuinely funny comedy that is not overly cynical or sardonic. Red is at its core sweet and sincere. Yes, a movie with explosions, missile-launchers, smoke bombs and car crashes is, at its core, sweet and sincere. Red is ultimately very character-driven, and as such it is a good thing that the cast does an outstanding job. With John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfuss and Morgan Freeman on the list, one could well mistake this for some Oscar-bait drama. And thatís one of the filmís many strengths: its cast do not seem to consider this to be frivolous or beneath them, and give their all while appearing to be having a blast.
To approach the film from a literary standpoint, its core theme seems to be about rediscovering youth. The two love story subplots, the first between Frank and Sarah and the second between two other characters (I wonít spoil it for you) feel like teenage crushes, puppy love almost, with the gunfights and fisticuffs keeping them from becoming cloying or saccharine. Marvinís LSD-induced antics seem amusingly juvenile, like that of a crazy stoned youngster. And nobody does unhinged like John Malkovich, believe you me.
Bruce Willis lets his softer side come through in-between dealing out pain to the bad guys, Karl Urban plays an anti-villain of sorts with a sympathetic edge, Helen Mirren is a blast as the gun-toting-yet-refined Victoria, Morgan Freeman affable as ever, Richard Dreyfuss gleefully evil and Mary Louise-Parker the perfect girl-next-door who finally gets the excitement sheís always wanted.
Robert Schwentke, who previously ramped up the suspense in Flightplan, proves he can handle kinetic action scenes competently as well. It is amazingly refreshing to be able to watch a proper shootout sequence without the breakneck speed editing, headache-inducing camera angles and unnecessary bells and whistles. And Dame Helen Mirren firing away 50 calibre bullets is a sight that has to be seen to be believed.
Red may well be my favourite movie of the year thus far. Its combination of heart, style and adrenaline make it a winner. Most of its stars may be age 55 and above, but this is one very fresh film. Red gets my green light.
RATING: 4.5/5 STARS