Saturday, 6 November 2010


Red sets itself up to be an action comedy. I admitted in my review of Knight & Day a few months back that the concept is easier pitched than executed even though I did end up being somewhat fond of the Cruise/Diaz comedy of sorts. Hypothetically Red sets itself up for more. I have generally no feelings for Bruce Willis, but Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman easily rank as three of my favourite actors and Mary Louise Parker is more often than not right on the money. As usually my tendency to not see trailers might have made me anticpate something different for Red – I don’t know. It’s a plot we may or may not have seen before, a retired spy of sorts is thrown back into the game to save himself from death or some other crises. Only this time the spy in question (Willis) is being helped by a trio culminating in an odd foursome which turns into a quintet when his almost-girlfriend (Parker) becomes involved in the machinations of the spies. That’s the basic plot of Red, and though it sounds decidedly hackneyed it seems to have potential to be at least diverting. In actuality, it’s not.

It’s weird how the year has flew by, and I still feel I haven’t seen a significant number of films (though I suppose thirty is not an awful number). I’ve been reticent about passing judgements on what I think of 2010 so far because anything I say will be inconclusive, but Red just seems like another nail in the coffin. The year is going abysmally. It’s not that Red couldn’t have worked – because really it should. Its attempts at toeing the line between sophisticated humour and light bantering are not completely terrible (in theory) but the results are exasperating. Red is a tedious film, and it’s not so much that I didn’t find myself laughing – the humour never went anywhere, all seeming so decidedly insular and yet oddly vague. And it’s not the actors are awful, true Freeman does come off the worse. His brand of deadpan only makes the film more turgid, but Willis seems competent, Mirren has moments (few as they may be, moments still) of brilliance, Parker seems to be trying hard and Malkovich antics are the closest things to humour but it doesn’t work. It just doesn’t.
In the end, I blame the writing. Hoeber and Schwentke seems to be hoping that his actors can save his stilted mess, but it’s sort of beyond the point of not return. It’s more than the flat characterisations, sometimes they tend to work in this genre, but it’s so thoroughly uninteresting that the name Red – acrononym, though it may be – becomes even more ironic because there’s nothing passionate about this. Count Red as another colossal waste of time at the movies this year....


Anonymous said...

Seeing it anyway because it was shot in Toronto, but when is the question.

Simon said...

It was fun. Whatever.

Castor said...

D+? What were you expecting big guy?

Jose said...

Parker tries TOO hard. She looks like she's in pain the entire movie. Her character should've been much more fun and silly.
Crappy movie true but Mirren made it worth my day.

TomS said...

Andrew, I have not seen "Red" but I support your opinion (which will no doubt be unpopular with techies, gamers and bloggers).

Based on the 30-second trailer I saw on television, I knew this was a film that pandered to a very specific audience...and the reason someone like Helen Mirren has to squander her talents like this proves that there is a lack of intelligent originality in the offices that greenlight mainstream films.

I am all for having fun, and I enjoy seeing extraordinary performers leaving their comfort zones (I remember Glenda Jackson chewing the scenery, and winning an Oscar, for "A Touch of Class", or Judi Dench in the Bond films).

What disappoints me is the continued big-screen adaptation and promotion, not of great modern literature that can transform us, but comic books that keep us trapped in an adolescent mindset.

Meanwhile, the artistic (not technological) possibilities of the motion picture are being all but forgotten by modern viewers..

rtm said...

WOW, D+?? I don't really put a grade on my review but I'd say it's more of a B for me. It didn't aim for Oscar greatness surely, but I had a lot of fun watching it and the cast made it more entertaining despite its so-so script. Oh well, I'm not going to convince you otherwise, I just don't think it's as bad as you make it to be.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simon this is me editing your comment: "it was...whatever"

castor i was honestly expecting a high B. i don't know what i was thinking.

jose i kind of forgive her for admittedly trying too hard. she seems to know it's all going too hell and seems a bit paranoid about it, but yes helen mirren can do anything.

tom you seem to have a lot of thoughts on this topic. MORE.

ruth honestly, when the credits roll i was really angry. at helen and john for attracting me to this, at myself for wasting my money and anticipating it. i had a lower grade actually, but i had to rethink it because there WERE some merits about it, but overall not a keeper for me at all.