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Film / Red (2010)

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Still armed. Still dangerous. Still got it.

Red is an American action-comedy film very loosely based on the three-issue comic book limited series of the same name created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, and published by the DC Comics imprint Homage. The film stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, Helen Mirren, Ernest Borgnine, and Richard Dreyfuss, with Robert Schwentke directing a screenplay by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber.

Frank Moses (Willis) is a retired CIA agent trying to make the best of his simple life. For the past few months, he had been developing a tentative relationship with Sarah Ross (Parker), a civilian office drone helping him with pension checks. He had been planning on going to Kansas City to see her when a hired hit squad bursts into his house and tries to have him killed. Since they had him under surveillance, Frank realizes that they must know about Sarah, and he's forced to kidnap her while he seeks help from other former members of the intelligence community (basically all the remaining cast). Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper (Urban) is discovering that the entire ordeal doesn't seem to add up. What follows is part Road Trip Plot, part Romantic Comedy and part action movie, as Frank gathers up his old CIA crew and gets to the bottom of their new R.E.D. (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) titles.

The film seems to have been made primarily so that a bunch of... matured actors, many of them famed for dramatic work, could ham it up with very large guns, and is fun to watch even if only because everyone in the cast and crew seem to be enjoying themselves. A sequel was released on July 19th, 2013. A third movie is in development, though no dates have been revealed yet. The status of the third movie is currently in the air, given Willis' 2022 disclosure that he has been diagnosed with aphasia and is stepping away from acting.

This is one of the few DC movies to not be distributed by Warner Bros., but rather Summit Entertainment.

These films provides examples of:

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  • A-Team Firing: Whenever the protagonists face policemen or Secret Service agents. Reaches ludicrous heights with the scene in Moldova, where an entire platoon of soldiers, in a double file horizontal firing line, can't even nick Moses or Boggs.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Frank reveals that rather than killing Ivan's cousin Igor The Butcher, he flipped him and the man now weighs 500 pounds and runs a 7-11 franchise in Orange County. Ivan can't even be mad about it. He tells Frank in return that "Veronique" was one of his; Frank is astonished then declares that whatever she was paid, she definitely earned it.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Aside from the transition to comedy, as noted above, the movie also does a great deal of expanding on the reasoning behind the order to kill Moses, creating a rather elaborate conspiracy involving the Vice President, whereas in the original comic it is just the new director of the CIA finding out about Moses' record and saying "Holy Shit! We can't let this guy live as long as he knows this stuff!" Signed off on by Warren Ellis himself, since the comic is so short that he said it could maybe be a forty-minute film... if it had a musical number.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: The "wet team" that attacks Frank in his home at the beginning are identified by Joe as an independent South African hit-squad-for-hire.
  • Angrish: Justified, as Sarah currently has duct tape across her mouth. This doesn't stop her from expressing herself eloquently.
  • Anti-Villain: Cooper is just doing his job and has no idea what's happening.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "I was hoping to not get kidnapped. Or drugged. I was hoping you had hair."
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Moses dislocates Cooper's shoulder with an inverted armbar, a move that targets the joint in the elbow and not the shoulder.
  • Author Appeal:
    • You can see Warren Ellis' fingerprints all over the script in the form of Marvin Boggs — an utterly lethal and brilliant yet batshit insane drug-addled conspiracy freak who is right about EVERY SINGLE ONE of his paranoid freakouts. All that's missing is some cool tattoos, smoking, and some nanotech implants and you'd have every single one of Ellis' "heroes" crammed into John Malkovich, who is the most memorable part of all the awesome things around him. All of this is rather amusing when you consider that Warren Ellis actually had no involvement in the creation of the character.
    • There's a fair bit of bondage in the movie, with emphasis on wide, tape gags. It can't be a coincidence that two scenes of two different people with them on are so close together, that there is an onscreen gagging of the main heroine, numerous cuts to her struggling while Bound and Gagged, and when she breaks free, unlike in almost every other portrayal of a gagged captive escaping their bonds, she does not immediately remove her gag, despite having both hands free.
  • Back in the Saddle: Moses, complete with the appropriate theme music
  • Bad Ass Crew: The Guatemala team, in spades. Exception of the CO and later Vice President.
  • Bad Ass In A Nice Suit: Cooper, as part of his CIA day job. (Even when arranging assassinations.) Meeting Frank leaves him severely discomposed.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Moses is dressed as a general, Sarah is posing as his aide. He needs to use a fake contact lens to get past a retinal scanner, but drops it. Sarah is on her hands and knees looking for it when the doors open to reveal a group of soldiers.
    Sarah: The general has dropped his contact lens. Perhaps you could help us?
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Marvin "old man." It ends badly for you.
    Marvin: [astonished] "Old man"...?
    Frank: [shakes head] No respect.
    Marvin: Can I kill her now?!
  • BFG:
    • Victoria's .50 cal machine gun.
    • As well as Bogg's .500 S&W Revolver.
  • Blood Knight: Victoria.
    Victoria: This is going to be fun!
    • Presumably part of why she and Ivan work so well together, despite being former interagency Star-Crossed Lovers.
    Ivan: (wistfully) I haven't killed anyone in years.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Old man, my ass!"
  • Bottomless Magazines: Every single gun in the movie fired more ammunition than it is actually capable of holding. Averted in the case of Victoria's .50 Browning, which is belt-fed and not limited in this fashion, although admittedly we do not see the belt clearly when the agents catch up to it and find it rigged to fire unattended and overheating from sustained fire might be a problem. We also see Frank change magazines when he jumps out of the police car, continuously firing at Cooper. IMFDB notes that the 8-round weapon still manages to fire 16 rounds after that reload.
  • Bound and Gagged: Sarah in the car and hotel room. Almost taken to a ridiculous extreme when Frank wants to duct tape the grieving mother of a victim, until Sarah intervenes. In a Brick Joke, Sarah has to do this to an Iranian diplomat in the sequel.
  • Bridal Carry: Ivan and a wounded Victoria, of course
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Victoria calls Frank out for being one.
    Victoria: You're all hard on the outside, but all gooey on the inside. Gooey.
  • Brutal Brawl: Pretty much every hand-to-hand fight, but special note goes to the fight between Moses and Cooper. The fight consists of the two of them bashing each other with every object within reach, whether it's a coffee mug, a telephone, or an entire coffee table.
  • Calling the Cops on the FBI: Moses does this to Cooper during a chase scene. When Cooper gets cornered by the cops, he surrenders on the spot rather than try to fight them or explain.
  • Car Fu: Subverted when Cooper rams Frank's car in New Orleans — while the car is still spinning, Frank leaps out and empties his pistol at Cooper, who gets the hell out of there, realizing this harmless retired analyst is anything but.
  • Cassandra Truth: Boggs. He is almost always right when he assumes someone or something is a threat. Of course, no-one believes him until it's too late.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Ivan, towards Victoria.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Marvin Boggs. Justified:
    Sara: Wow. This guy's insane.
    Frank: Well, he thought he was the subject of a secret government mind control project. [beat] As it turns out, he really was being given daily doses of LSD for 11 years.
    Sara: Well, in that case, he looks great.
    Frank: Fantastic.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Both Moses and Cooper use anything they can find to beat the other senseless when they fight. Coffee mug, telephone, shelves, glass table, filing cabinet, you name it. Helps that Moses trained the guy that trained Cooper.
  • Combat Stilettos: Subverted with Victoria. The final showdown has her slipping off her dress pumps and putting on a pair of combat boots instead.
  • Concealment Equals Cover:
    • The Secret Service's cars. Justified, seeing as how they are the Secret Service's cars and are armored in real life — and subverted, as a M2 Browning works just fine when the crew wants to rip them apart.
    • Averted for the assault in the beginning of the film, however, where the rounds fired are clearly shown to tear the house to pieces as though it were wet cardboard. If Frank had been upstairs, he would have been killed no matter what room he was in.
    • Also averted for those metal containers at the airport, although no-one was shot through them.
  • Convenient Slow Dance: Victoria and Ivan are supposed to take advantage of one at the VP's party so she can hand off the gas canister for his part of the ruse. However, they are just recently reunited Star-Crossed Lovers; he fails to notice when the music ends, and she forgets to hand over the canister until he starts to walk away.
  • Convenient Terminal Illness: Joe volunteers to be the distraction for the protagonists to escape from Alexander Dunning's house, which is surrounded by the CIA. He mentions earlier in the film that he's 80 years old and has stage 4 Liver Cancer, so he chooses to make "the hard choice".
  • Crazy Survivalist: Marvin. Justified — he was subject to a number of mind-altering experiments when he was in the CIA.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Subverted when Ivan saves Victoria. Who then carries her off in a Bridal Carry.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Moses vs. the Faceless Goons at the beginning of both movies.
  • Cutting the Knot: Faced with an unbreakable electronic lock, Frank simply kicks a hole in the wall next to it and opens the lock manually.
  • Dirty Old Man: Joe is a mild version. He pretends the TV is broken, or possibly sabotages it, so he can look at the butt of the nurse who tries to fix it. She catches him, but is only amused by it, likely due to the fact that, as far as the nurse knows, Joe is a harmless old man with Stage 4 Liver Cancer.
  • Disguised in Drag: In The Stinger sets in Moldova, Marvin Boggs is wearing a dress and a blonde wing for... some reason. He complains that next time, it should be Moses' actual girlfriend.
  • The Dragon: Cynthia Wilkes. The twist is who she's the Dragon for. It's not the VP - it's Dunning.
  • The Dreaded: The way the team talks about Victoria just before she is introduced makes it feel like they're reluctant to meet her and might not survive that. Totally justified, given the kind of work these people do, and the fact that when we actually see her she's hiding a submachine gun under a pile of flowers.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Moses' preferred method of subduing people; this is lampshaded (see Bound and Gagged). It is used at least twice on random hostages in the sequel.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The first time we see Cooper, he's on the phone talking to his wife about his children while moving around a hotel room planting evidence. Then he hangs a guy. Then he accepts a mission to kill Frank.
    • Moses and Sara: Frank Moses wakes up at six in the morning (without his alarm going off) and goes through a cardiac workout routine even though he's retired, Sarah works in a cubicle wallpapered in postcards of places she would like to visit, and reads trashy romance novels while at work.
    • And then there's Boggs and his ghille suit in his own front yard.
  • Exact Words: When telling the story of when she was ordered to kill her lover, Victoria says she "put three bullets in his chest." She never said she killed him.
  • The Film of the Book: The movie was based on a comic book of the same name.
  • Fingore: Frank shows Joe an envelope containing the severed forefingers of the hit team sent to his house.
    Joe: This used to be a gentleman's game.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: An agent shoots a RPG at John Malkovich, and he shoots the RPG, which explodes mid-air and kills the agent.
  • Flipping the Bird: Marvin gives the Spy Satellite that he knows is watching him the finger.
  • Foreshadowing: "You don't have people killed. I have people killed. I'm the bad guy, remember?"
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon:
    • Victoria and her wonderful arsenal of automatic weapons.
    • The woman who Boggs threatens at gunpoint and her wonderful RPG.
    • Sarah desperately wants to be one of these.
  • Government Conspiracy: Turns out, not really. The Vice President's apparent cover up for his election is just a cover up for an Arms Dealer.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: Boggs does a variant of this, sending back a grenade with the butt of a grenade launcher. Batter up!
  • Groin Attack: Marvin has this as his final resort when Frank closes in to convince Marvin that he's not trying to kill him:
    Frank: Wanna take that knife out of my balls now?
  • Guilty Pleasures: Sarah Ross likes to read trashy romance novels which she tells Frank Moses are terrible but so addictive.
  • Hand Cannon: Boggs' revolvers most definitely qualify. Cooper's compensated Sig P220 Sport looks the part, but it's actually chambered in .45 ACP (the compensator makes up much of the bulk).
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: Cooper may be ruthless and ambitious, but he's more of a Designated Villain and an Unwitting Pawn than anything else. Throughout the movie, his loyalties never actually change. Sure, he is first seen casually planting evidence before faking a man's suicide, but we're never given anything to actually indicate his target was a good guynote 
  • He Knows Too Much: The plot of the first film is driven by this.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: God bless John Malkovich.
    [Marvin shoots the main villain in the head after Frank had already killed him]
    Frank: Feel better?
    Marvin: Yeah. Wanna get pancakes?
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Joe, who lets himself be killed by a sniper to let the rest of the team escape.
  • Hidden Supplies: Frank Moses has a supply cache of money and fake identification hidden under the concrete in his basement, which he accesses by smashing the floor with a sledge hammer.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each of the titles of the score album contains the acronym RED. Examples include "Retired Extremely Dangerous", "Rapidly, Executioners Destroyed", "Revenge Es Delicioso", etc.
  • If You Ever Do Anything To Hurt Him: Victoria to Sara: "So if you break his heart, I will kill you. And bury your body in the woods." Softened by Sarah's reaction: "Oh... wow... Okay" while nodding agreeably. Also somewhat subverted by the fact Victoria herself has no romantic designs on Frank; she's just speaking as a friend.
  • I Have Your Wife: Played with when Cooper and Moses do it to each other. Cooper captures Sara, then Moses calls him to let him know that he is in Cooper's house and won't harm his family, in return for a guarantee of Sara's safety.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Moses, sorta. He doesn't want to be normal, but he'd really prefer it if people would stop shooting at him. Though he mourns the boredom with his life, asking Victoria how she deals with it, who reveals she became a mercenary to deal with the boredom.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Played with through the movie with all the bad guys, but especially the Moldovan soldiers at the end pursuing Frank and Marvin across an empty field.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Boggs shoots down an RPG with his S&W. Dead center. Also notable is the absurd timing. Rocket Propelled Grenades are fast. Boggs put a bullet dead center on the tip of an rocket propelled grenade, after it had been fired, but before the shooter was outside the blast radius. Also a case of Reality Is Unrealistic: MythBusters tested this, and the grenade doesn't arm until it is already a good distance away from the shooter, since the RPG is an inertia-triggered weapon.
  • Improvised Weapon: Combined with Batter Up!, Boggs uses a grenade launcher like a bat and hits a grenade right back at the the guy who threw it.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Marvin drives the Secret Service in the direction he wants by charging towards them while strapped with dynamite and a ridiculously large Micky Mouse clock.
  • Inspector Javert: Cooper. He turns when he finds out what's really going on.
  • Jumped at the Call:
    • Sara, in an interesting variant; while the only reason she got involved was because Frank kidnapped her, which she definitely isn't happy about, once the true situation was explained she became an enthusiastic participant.
    • A clearer example is when Ivan explains the nature of the "favor" he wants from Frank, and Sarah turns around and childishly begs, "Can we go?"
  • Lighter and Softer: A LOT, compared to its source material.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: Joe, who decides to sacrifice himself due to terminal cancer.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Invoked by Moses when he hides in a broom closet long enough to build a bomb out of the materials he finds.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Or rather "The Man in Front of the Man" — Dunning is the real Big Bad, and Wilkes is The Dragon. Stanton is a mere pawn and scapegoat. Cooper is just doing his job.
  • Mandatory Unretirement: Well, he was just trying to be normal, until the assassins kicked in his door.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Brought up in this exchange; Moses has Cooper in an armbar:
    Moses: Kordeski trained you?
    Cooper: Yeah...
    Moses: I trained Kordeski.
    [Moses dislocates Cooper's shoulder with a cringeworthy *SNAP*]
  • A Match Made in Stockholm: Inverted by Frank and Sara: their relationship had already started with the phone calls, reading the same books, and the intent to meet up soon. The kidnapping threatened to deep six the burgeoning relationship until Sarah realized that Frank wasn't some sort of paranoid nutcase and there really was someone trying to kill both of them.
  • Mood Whiplash: Played for laughs when Moses and Ivan reminisce about their past job. Ivan mourns the loss of his fellow agent and cousin, whom Moses has supposedly killed. It is all very sombre. After downing a drink, Moses deadpans that said cousin is actually still alive — a defector who is now quite obese and owns a chain of 7-11s. Ivan is shocked at the news that Igor is still alive and a defector, but laughs at his weight and business.
  • Mook Horror Show:
    • Moses kills the hit team at the beginning of the movie one-by-one seemingly from out of nowhere. The last guy even panics and empties his machine gun wildly until it jams and he desperately tries to unjam his gun before Moses kills him.
    • During the climactic sequence, we keep cutting to the Secret Service's perspective as they just try to do their jobs, protecting a man they don't know is corrupt. We don't see any actually die. The DVD commentary notes that Victoria's gun would've realistically punched through even an armored limo and killed all of them.
  • More Dakka:
    • M-16s aren't enough, they brought SAWs to try and take down Moses in his house.
    • And of course, as mentioned already: Victoria and the "Ma Deuce" heavy machine gun.
  • Mugged for Disguise:
    • Frank steals a fireman's uniform to get out of the CIA building after being shot and bleeding over his white shirt.
    • Played for Laughs with the waiter who's suddenly pulled into an industrial garbage bin by an unseen person (later revealed to be Martin).
  • Myopic Architecture: The CIA's ultra-secure records room has an "unbreakable" door with an "unbreakable" lock... set in a very breakable wall.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Victoria. She looks so sweet and innocent!
  • Never Suicide: We are introduced to Cooper as he's staging one of these.
  • No Mere Windmill: Boggs is extremely paranoid thanks to years of being dosed with LSD. He's still right, though.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Marvin shoots an RPG out of the air and suffers no injury. The one who fired the RPG, however...
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever happened at the end of the film. All we know is that it involved Moses pushing Marvin (in a dress and makeshift leg splint) in a wooden handcart with a nuclear bomb while a very angry army is in hot pursuit. There are also explosions.
    • Sara's been kidnapped, duct-taped, drugged, and driven hundreds of miles while unconscious. It's not the worst first date she's been on.
    • Marvin thinks Frank is there to kill him, because the last time they met, he tried to kill Frank. Frank assures him he's not, and no further details are given.
  • No Such Agency: This exchange provides the page quote:
    Cooper: I didn't know this place [the CIA Back Room] existed.
    Records keeper: It doesn't.
  • Not My Driver: The Vice President and two Secret Service Agents finally make it to a limo that gets away from the attack... only for Frank Moses to turn around in the driver's seat and taser them all. This is a particularly good example, because viewers may have been expecting the earlier Service limo to be Moses, except Ivan blew that one up too.
  • Not The Illness That Killed Them: When Cooper and the CIA have the retirees surrounded at gunpoint in the woods, Joe volunteers to step outside of the house first, knowing full well that the agents are going to open fire instead of arresting them peacefully. Despite objections, he insists on making the Heroic Sacrifice to give everyone else a chance to get away, because he knows that his pancreatic cancer is only giving him a few months left, and he's just waiting for his life to end at this point anyway.
  • Old Flame: Victoria and Ivan.
  • Only a Flesh Wound:
    • Averted. When Moses gets shot in the shoulder they have to seek medical assistance, and when Victoria gets shot by the secret service agents, she chooses to stay behind, because the wound seriously impairs her ability to walk, much less complete the mission. Ivan carries her out, and presumably patches her up offscreen.
    • Played straight with Cooper after Moses dislocates his shoulder; he has a sling for one scene and then it disappears without any apparent residual pain.
  • Outside Ride: Subverted. Cooper tries to jump onto a car he is chasing, with a respectably badass maneuver. He's almost immediately shaken off.
  • Phone-Trace Race: Set up when Frank calls Cooper and Cooper is encouraged to keep Frank on the line long enough to let the trace run, though in this case the trace is actually completed successfully long before the call ends because Frank was calling from Cooper's house and wanted Cooper to know it.
  • Precision F-Strike: Cooper gets one towards the end, especially noticeable as there honestly isn't much swearing in the film up until that point.
  • Pretty in Mink: Victoria in a white mink coat.
  • Properly Paranoid: Marvin believes that he was a guinea pig in a mind control experiment, thinks a helicopter is following him, and even holds up a Innocent Bystander with his Hand Cannon because he thinks she was an enemy agent. He's right about all three.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • The numerous police, feds and secret service agents that try to either apprehend Moses and the crew or protect the VP. Impressively, the heroes never kill a single one of these guys, instead only taking out the mercenaries and CIA assassins whose job is to eliminate them.
    • Also, Ivan in a way. If the movie was set during the Cold War, Ivan and Frank may well have been mortal enemies trying to kill each other. However, with the Iron Curtain fallen, Ivan becomes more of an ambivalent ally who misses the excitement and subterfuge of the Cold War, sees an opportunity to rekindle an old love affair, and wants to collect on the favor Frank owes him.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: To Moses when he's holding the Vice President hostage
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Joe happily quotes the trope when the team has Victoria, Sara, Joe, Frank, and Marvin.
  • Retired Badass: Moses and his team. There's a reason R.E.D. stands for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous" after all. People seem to have a problem comprehending the last two letters.
  • Retired Badass Roundup: This film and The Expendables are the modern Trope Codifier.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: Bonus points for being a cover-up of a cover-up. In 1981 a young Army officer snapped and massacred an entire village in Guatemala. A number of CIA agents, including Moses, were shuttled in to clean up the mess. Now, some 30 years later, a young reporter named Stephanie Chen has gotten wind of the thing, and tries to get the scoop from someone else who was involved, arms magnate Alexander Dunning (Dreyfuss). He calls the young Army officer — Vice President Robert Stanton — who panics and just decides to kill everyone. (Again.) And this brings us back to Frank and Sarah. All of this is revealed to be a ruse because Dunning was planning to make Stanton the president and use the incident to blackmail him. Any surviving witnesses to the original incident (Frank, Joe, the people the reporter talked to) had to go because they knew too much.
  • Rivals Team Up: Besides Joe, all the help Moses recruits was at best, an ally due to politics, at worst, mortal enemies during the Cold War.
    Moses: Why would I be trying to kill you?
    Marvin: Because the last we met, I tried to kill you.
    Moses: That was a long time ago.
    Marvin: Some people hold onto things like that.
  • Rule of Cool:
    • Helen Mirren with a Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun.
    • Casually stepping out of a car while it's doing a donut automatically qualifies your film for this.
    • As does shooting an incoming RPG with a revolver bullet and causing the explosion to back blast onto the person who fired it — "Old man my ass" indeed.
  • Running Gag: Marvin in drag during the stinger mission snippets.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: Sarah with Forbes magazine while waiting for Frank at the CIA building.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When Cooper is offered the opportunity to become head of the CIA if he kills Frank and the Vice President, he opts to help Frank kill the villains instead.
  • Sensual Slavs: Ivan is this to Victoria, and Katya to Frank.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Played straight, then subverted as we actually see the events that were implied to happen. See Noodle Incident.
    • The sequel has one too! Han threatening to kill Frank, as he was originally instructed to do, certainly sounds like a set-up for a third movie.
  • Shoot Your Mate: Victoria mentions to Sarah how MI-6 once ordered her to kill an enemy agent she'd started a relationship with. When asked what she did, she replies, "I put three bullets in his chest." The agent was Ivan, who still loves her and took the bullets as a sign of her enduring affection - if she'd wanted to kill him, she would have shot him in the head.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Showdown at High Noon: Marvin with his Hand Cannon vs. a CIA hitwoman with her RPG.
  • Shown Their Work: Former CIA field officer Robert Baer was a consultant for the film, and does DVD Commentary. The film is largely accurate, but he notes the usage of cheats for the sake of story. The Back Room, for example, is more or less real, but the RED designation isn't. There's a scene where Moses makes a cell phone call from the library, and Baer notes that in real life, Frank would've stolen a phone from someone if he didn't have time to find a pay phone. Most hilariously, he says that a lot of Boggs' paranoia about "the grid" is justified, and he often sounds like the character.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Coupled with Spy Satellites and Black Helicopters. Marvin's Properly Paranoid about them, as the CIA taking out the second witness shows.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Victoria Winslow with a tripod-mounted Browning, the redheaded CIA agent with a rocket launcher. Neither are young, but both are toting improbably large weapons for their stature.
  • Smug Snake: William Dunning, who revels in his immorality. He thinks it's hilarious to project a speech about his company's "peacekeeping" activities to cover up illegal weapons deals, and that's only the beginning.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Victoria and Sarah are the only female characters in the team, and Sarah is not even an official member, being a civilian who was caught up in the mess along the way.
  • Someone Has to Die: Our heroes can't see any way to escape Dunning's compound that doesn't call for someone to pull a Heroic Sacrifice. Joe volunteers, citing his Convenient Terminal Illness.
  • Speaking Up for Another: Downplayed. Sarah is unused to the cloak and dagger world she's found herself in, and she has concerns about Marvin's sanity after Frank introduces her to the reclusive man.
    Sarah Ross: [talking quietly about Marvin] Wow. This guy's insane.
    Frank Moses: Well, he thought he was the subject of a secret government mind control project.
    Marvin Boggs: [in another room, checking files] This'll take a minute.
    Sarah Ross: Sure.
    Frank Moses: As it turns out... he really was being given daily doses of LSD for 11 years.
    Sarah Ross: Well, in that case, he looks great.
    Frank Moses: Fantastic.
  • Spy Fiction: A nice mixture of Stale Beer and Martini, with a few forays into parody.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Sarah and the CIA agents. Of course, they are armed agents and she's a cubicle monkey. It would presumably be much less effective on, say, Victoria. The only person to even get close enough to try doesn't even get a chance.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Mostly during the CIA ambush.
  • Success Through Insanity: Boggs, who's... kinda messed up in the head due to being fed LSD for 11 years. He keeps a grenade launcher in a stuffed pig he carries everywhere; and even uses the grenade launcher as a baseball bat to hit a grenade back at an attacker — and that's before he shoots an RPG round dead-on. Also, his Properly Paranoid streak helps the group anticipate and deal with or escape several encounters.
  • Super Cell Reception:
    • Cooper apparently has some kind of super cellphone which can get reception in a steel-plated, deep underground CIA vault. It is the CIA, after all.
    • Victoria communicates with the rest of the team, who are in Dunning's inner saferoom for private negotiations, via walkie-talkie. Either Dunning is incompetent or the radios are magical.
  • Tempting Fate: Played straight on several occasions, and lampshaded at the end of the movie when Sarah expresses relief that they survived; Marvin immediately says something bad will now happen. Surprisingly, nothing does. Except Ivan mentions he has a little job for them in Moldova...
  • Title Drop: Retired, Extremely Dangerous.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Just about everyone in the film under the age of forty. They look at Moses and the other Old Masters and only see "old guys", never quite realizing, despite repeated humiliating defeats at their hands, that anyone who has managed to survive to a ripe old age in that career field is obviously really damned good at NOT DYING! The one exception being Cooper; as soon as he finds out what Moses really did, he treats him with the appropriate severity.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The trailers for the film make it clear that Joe didn't really die the first time we think he did.
    • They also show the CIA hitwoman whom Frank earlier thinks is an innocent bystander facing off against Marvin.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: When Sarah drops the contact and the soldiers burst in, there's a long awkward pause before she effortlessly bluffs them.
  • Villain Ball: With Alexander Dunning actually shouting at Joe and Moses (and the audience), "I am the Bad Guy!" before getting knocked out by Joe. Sure enough, he is.
  • We Need a Distraction: Several examples, including Ivan spraying an aerosol to make everyone think there's a gas leak.
  • Wham Line: "You're at my house!" This is the scene that really cements just how far Frank is willing to go to keep Sarah safe.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Played with. The team kills the wet work team, CIA assassins, and various mercenaries who are actively trying to kill them; but most of whom are presumably unaware of the conspiracy. They are very careful however not to kill any of the police, FBI, and Secret Service they encounter, who are completely unaware of the conspiracy.

    Red 2 
  • Anti-Villain: Han, who is actually still a decent person and whose motives for wanting to kill Frank are very much justified. (Frank framed him as a traitor and essentially ruined his life, not that he didn't have his reasons for doing so)
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Nightshade bomb's primary component is Red Mercury, which gives the bomb the power of a nuclear device without the radiation.
  • Berserk Button: Stealing Han's plane makes him want to hurt you before he kills you.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Inverted, as the black Mook is the last one Frank kills at the Yankee White building.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Han seems to really enjoy beating the crap out of people.
    • Jack Horton seems to truly find sadistic glee and satisfaction when his job involves beating up, torturing, or killing people.
    • Victoria is casually pouring acid over a man... who appears to be dead... in a bath tub... in a hotel room... while on the phone.
  • Bond One-Liner: A young agent tells a handcuffed Victoria that despite her reputation as a legend, he's never heard of her, as he approaches to kill her. She proceeds to bounce him off the table, wall, and floor, having escaped from her restraints.
    Victoria: Well; you've heard of me, now.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Dr. Bailey. Though he does his fair share of front-stabbing too.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Han beats the crap out of policemen with the door of a store fridge.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted, as Han's minigun shreds cars and stone statues to pieces.
  • Continuity Nod: At Marvin's funeral, Frank mentions how the mission they performed in Moldova at the end of the first film made Marvin a national hero there.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Han vs. a whole bunch of policemen in Moscow.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Kansas-born Sarah has to dress up as a guard in the Kremlin. The fact that the Russian soldier flirting with her did not immediately catch this means he was likely too horny to care.
  • Enemy Mine: Frank manages to convince Han, who was sent to assassinate him, to join forces in order to stop the Big Bad.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When we first see Han, he is going into an extremely high security building where he is literally stripped of all of his clothes and equipment in order to get close to his target and manages to assassinate him with a folded picture (that the target gave him!) and waltzes out of the building without anybody realizing what had happened.
  • Faking the Dead: Marvin starts the film by warning Frank someone is coming after them, then apparently blowing himself up.
    Sarah: [at Marvin's funeral] He looks so lifelike...
    Frank: That's because he's not dead. He does this all the time.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Bailey still seems rather polite even after he's stopped Obfuscating Insanity and revealed himself as the Big Bad.
  • Femme Fatale: Katja. Apparently, she did quite a number on Frank when he was a young and inexperienced agent, and she's still got it.
  • Flat "What": Implied. Frank, Marvin and Katja clearly have this look on their face when Sarah manages to persuade The Frog to help them by simply begging him.
  • Flipping the Bird: The Frog does this to Sarah and Boggs in the sequel while they are stuck in their car. Then he is hit by Frank's car.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": At Marvin's funeral, not only does Frank go on about how the government doped him with LSD but stabs a needle into Marvin's hand because he's completely convinced Marvin is faking it. Which he is.
  • Gatling Good: Han uses a gatling gun against Frank and Marvin when he's really angry.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Victoria is trying to bypass the electronic lock on a door leading to a secret prison wing. When she can't manage it, Frank simply knocks on the door, causing the guard on the other side to open it and complain about how they're not following standard protocol. He realizes his mistake a bit too late, of course.
  • Guns Akimbo: Both Han (as expected of a Hong Kong-based badass) and Victoria get to do this during a car chase.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Horton appears to truly enjoy his work of murdering and torturing to get the information he needs. However he appears to truly believe he is defending America and appears horrified when he learns about the weapon later in the film.
    • Played straight with Han, who ends up being Vitriolic Best Buds with Frank.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: This is how Frank ultimately defeats Dr. Bailey and his Nightshade bomb, by discreetly leaving it on Bailey's plane so that when it blew up, it took Bailey with it.
  • I Have Your Wife: Horton tries this with Moses, but Moses isn't fooled.
  • Improvised Weapon: The fights between Frank and Han show them both to be quite adept at using whatever happens to be on hand to absolutely demolish any nearby enemies.
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: The Frog gets some of his expensive wine collection smashed, but it's of only limited effectiveness.
  • Jumped at the Call: Frank is trying to plan his and Sara's future together, while she would prefer to go on another mission. Frank's friends keep pointing out she's with him for the excitement, and he eventually resigns himself to the inevitable and presents her with a gun as a gift.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Bailey has shades of this.
  • Mission Control: Han Cho Bai appeared to work with one before Moses stole his plane.
  • Mook Horror Show: Early in the film, Moses single-handedly takes out a squad of 7 special forces-type mooks, one by one, much to their growing nervousness.
  • More Dakka: One of Han's ambushes has him trying to shoot down Moses with a minigun.
  • Napoleon Delusion: Victoria infiltrates an insane asylum by donning a crown and ermine and carrying on about being the Queen of England.
  • Noodle Incident: The film ends with one: Whatever case required Sarah to dress as a cha-cha dancer in Venezuela... who happens to be carrying an assault rifle. And Marvin's dressed as Carmen Miranda, apparently for his own amusement.
    • Just what Victoria was doing before she dumped a dead body in a bath and melted it with acid.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Done by Dr. Bailey. He comes across as very confused and forgetful, which makes sense considering he was locked up for 35 years.
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: Marvin is curled up to Frank while they're pinned down by Han. Frank asks if Marvin has a stick of dynamite in his pocket.
    Marvin: Yes, but I'm saving it for an emergency.
    Frank: ...this is kind of an emergency, isn't it?
  • Professional Killer: Han Cho Bai. It was his backup plan, after Frank torpedoed his career as an agent.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Where's. My. Plane?! note 
  • Rule of Cool: Helen Mirren doing a Guns Akimbo from the inside of a drifting car.
  • Running Gag: Throughout most of the film, Han keeps demanding that Frank return his private plane after he steals it.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Apart from a short stint in Moldova in The Stinger, the first film was set entirely within America. Here, most of the action takes place in Paris, London and Moscow, and there are some scenes in Hong Kong and Caracas as well.
  • Serious Business: Han really wants his plane back.
  • Shoot the Hostage:
    • After Moses takes one of his Mooks hostage, Horton shoots him after figuring out that Moses is still outnumbered 7-1 and handcuffed, forcing him to retreat.
    • At the end of the movie Sarah is being held at gunpoint by Dr Bailey and begs Frank to shoot rather than let him detonate his Weapon of Mass Destruction. Frank just puts down his gun, but only to fool Bailey into thinking he's won.
  • Shoot Your Mate: Helen does this again, only to main characters' car.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Sarah has this after she's forced to kill a guard. Being taken hostage by the Big Bad snaps her out of it.
  • Tutti Frutti Hat: At the end, the team are on a mission in Caracas and Marvin is crossdressing again, complete with a fruit bowl hat that catches a stray bullet in the banana.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Whatever happened to Han's team anyway?
  • Wicked Cultured:
    • Bai enjoys fine wine and expensive, tailored suits when not torturing people to death.
    • The Frog also fits this trope, as he enjoys collecting fine wines between meetings to sell weapons to terrorists.
  • Wire Dilemma: Marvin Boggs is trying to defuse a bomb. He cuts the wire and the timer speeds up. He cuts all the wires; it doesn't stop.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Red 2


Han Cho Bai is the best

In his first scene we learn that he dresses well, carries an impressive array of personal weapons, is very fit and comfortable with nudity, is well versed in protocol, has origami skills, and can kill you with a piece of paper if you're dumb enough to hand him one.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / EstablishingCharacterMoment

Media sources: