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....