Movie ReWatch Review – RED

bruce willis and morgan freeman in RED
Retired, Extremely Dangerous

To start with, the title RED in this film is an acronym for Retired, Extremely Dangerous. As retirees, we see these characters don’t have much of a life anymore. That’s the set-up, starting with Bruce Willis’ Frank Moses, lost in an empty house devoid of personal decor. I can see where it would be tough for such deadly folks to ease back into American suburbia, after a career of honing themselves into CIA weapons.

[pullquote]What do you do, after a rough life of adventure and government-condoned murder?[/pullquote] Make bogus government paycheck calls in a desperate attempt to connect with someone, like Bruce Willis’ infamous black-ops character? Pine away over lost love, like Brian Cox’s Russian spy; live in a bunker, like John Malcovich’s crazy bomber; or make flower arrangements and bake like a Martha Stewart clone, as Helen Mirren’s wetworks expert is reduced to?

These are good questions, and I don’t know how the real-life ex-agents manage to “transition,” as Moses puts it.

In RED, it’s nice to see the connection — and grudging respect — growing between Karl Urban’s ambitious young agent, in contrast to Willis’ older, jaded Moses. Urban’s Cooper is well on his way to becoming just like the people he’s hunting, but we start rooting for all of them somewhere along the way. [pullquote]There’s a lot of care to establish these characters as gifted, yet fallible people, and not impervious superhero agents.[/pullquote] They take bullets, make costly mistakes, love the wrong people, and — in spite of the pain —  they miss the old days.

Make no mistake.[pullquote position=”right”]This is a clever, funny movie. It doesn’t shy from violence, but there’s a lot of discretion shots and it’s not gory. The soundtrack is absolutely affable, with the whole affair as slick and stylish as Pulp Fiction — or even better, an older and more lethal version of Ocean’s 11. [/pullquote]When Freeman gleefully announces, “The band’s getting back together,”  I wanted to cheer.

These actors are known for their authentic character roles over decades of work, and the ensemble meshed like magic. I couldn’t get enough of their amusingly tense sparring, and can’t wait to see the sequel I somehow missed the first time around. I’ll catch RED 2 next and see if the story picks up right where it leaves off.

Helen Mirren’s Virginia reminded me of a gleeful, older Xena: Warrior Princess. She has the same focused, deadly, competent joy in her work; she just seemed grateful to get to murder with the other kids again. You go, Dame Mirren!

Even though this movie came out in 2010,  the actors haven’t aged at all. Morgan Freeman and Mirren both just headlined a brand-new fantasy feature this week (The Nutcracker and the 4 Realms), and honestly, they look the same. Good genes, I guess. (I don’t think Morgan Freeman ages. He did play God once…)

Usually the villains in CIA/FBI shoot-em-up movies are lame, with the MacGuffins fungible. Here, I felt invested in the stakes and cared about the outcome. The Vice President was a sad figure in the end. That worked.

Richard Dreyfuss’ self-titled Bad Guy was a bit over the top (not in the good way), and detracted somewhat from the otherwise graceful “execution” (lol) of a really enjoyable thriller. Dreyfuss is usually an extremely competent actor. But his was the only off-key note in RED. Maybe I can  blame the director for that.

Basically, this is darn good movie that holds up nicely over time. I’m excited to view the sequel tonite, and will post a review to the link soon.

Movie Grade: A

Star Trek 4 Movie News Updates

We’re actually not sure if Chris Pine is still boldly going. (Yes, this can be taken either way.)

As of this weekend, we now know a few new things about the uncertain status of the on-hiatus, as-yet-unnamed Star Trek 4 movie film. For people following the saga of the Kelvin Timeline Star Trek movies, both both Chrises walked out on the planned post-Star Trek Beyond film, due to breakdowns in salary negotiations with Paramount. Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth, to reprise James Kirk and George Kirk — James T’s father — respectively, were told their previously-agreed-to salaries would be dropped, after the disappointing box office returns of the 3rd aforementioned feature. The actors walked.

Here’s some Star Trek Movie News and Speculation, for your “continuing mission” pleasure: 

  • Chris Pine reported to Variety that he’s willing to reprise his character if salary talks reopen. (He’s also going to continue his role in the DC universe, so it’s not like he’s begging for work.)
  • At a Calgary Expo this weekend, Jennifer Morrison (James Kirk’s mother in the 2009 film), she interrupted panel moderator Garret Wang (Harry Kim from Star Trek: Voyager) to say George Kirk’s demise should be considered a “supposed death”. Hmmm. So maybe don’t count Hemsworth’s participation out just yet either. We assumed that Kirk Sr. would appear via flashback or time travel trickery, but in movie land, death is a relative thing.
  • Also, Morrison hopes to reprise her Momma Kirk role as well.
  • Karl Urban (playing Bones McCoy) reported to JoBlow that he’s confident ST 4 will occur.
  • Besides Urban, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, and Simon Pegg are expected to sign on as the rest of the Enterprise bridge crew, minus Anton Yelchin (after his unfortunate death).
  • JJ Abrams, continuing as a producer for the Trek movies, announced Yelchin’s Chekov role won’t be recast.
  •  Danai Gurira (best known for her roles in The Walking Dead and as the Captain of the Black Panther‘s Guard in the MCU), is being eyed to snag a role in ST4. (As reported by Deadline.)
  • Simon Pegg (Scotty) was the first to announce (with JoBlow) that a woman — S.J. Clarkson — will direct ST4. That’s a gender first in a Trek movie. (Variety has the full story.)
  • Interestingly, Zachari Quinto (Spock), back in April, cautioned that more Trek movies should not be considered guaranteed. It seems the Vulcan’s words might have been prophetic. Things seem to be both steaming ahead and at a stalemate.

Stay tuned, Trek fans. At least Trek will definitely be continuing on TV, with the second season moving forward on both of CBS:ALL ACCESS’s two shows: Star Trek: Discovery (for good or ill), and the highly anticipated, upcoming new Jean Luc Picard series next Fall, starring Sir Patrick Stewart.

More news on Patrick Stewart’s new Star Trek show, below:

Sir Patrick Stewart Back as the Beloved Jean-Luc Picard in New Star Trek

Star Trek Characters We Will Probably See Again