Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Better Red Than Dead



This is not a political polemic. Settle back, relax, drop any political or other anxiety, and watch “RED” (an acronym for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous”). The plot is silly, unbelievable and only slightly gory. The movie is thoroughly amusing and entertaining.

Frank Moses (an aging Bruce Willis) is living a quiet, pastoral life. His main entertainment is tearing up his monthly retirement check so he can call his phone pal (Mary-Louise Parker) and enjoy their conversations. The mild flirtations enhance both their days. This mundane existence is shattered by a not-so-nice evening visit from a group of very professional assassins. Who are these birds, and what do they want? This is where the script gets into the far-fetched, but completely entertaining, conspiracy that reaches (gulp) into the highest elements of government.

Frank rounds up his old (and we mean OLD) bunch of licensed-to-kill ex-CIA types. First we’re treated to Morgan Freeman (Joe), living the very quiet life in a nursing home. Next is John Malkovich (Marvin), totally phobic. Last, and elegantly tending her garden, the regal Helen Mirren (Victoria – fittingly since she plays queens so well). With this cast it would be hard for the movie to miss.

They all spent their careers shooting – or otherwise getting rid off – bad guys, and their skills haven’t diminished with age. Indeed, when Victoria is not cooing to her flowers she still entertains an occasional disposal contract.  Marvin is comic and believe it or not, charming, as he goes through his psychotic fits and starts. Malkovich steals the show from the moment he’s found in the woods to the very last shootout.

Toss in a fine turn from Brian Cox as Ivan, a former KGB type who ruefully tells us that he hasn’t “killed anyone in years” and the casting is complete and satisfying.

Suspend disbelief and enjoy the very funny lines, delicious mugging, and fitting tribute to geezerdom. This is the movie that answers the question whether the hero must be young, male, ripped and hairy. None of the above, although Mirren did pose for some very suggestive stuff at a fairly advanced age!

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