Give me Dame Helen Mirren with a semi-automatic weapon and Morgan Freeman smiling, “We’re getting the band back together,” and I will happily settle back and enjoy the popcorn.
“RED” stands for “Retired Extremely Dangerous,” and this is the designation applied to a group of former CIA and other operatives. They find it difficult to adjust to a peaceful life and are as relieved as they are energized when it turns out that they have been targeted by the same kinds of hit squads they used to run. Game on.
The graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner is a bit more grim than this high-spirited adaptation with Oscar-winners Mirren and Freeman having a literal and metaphoric blast doing just what their characters are doing — showing the young folks how it’s done.
Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, who lives in a house with all of the personality of an airport motel and whose only pleasure is in talking to Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) the woman at the call center about why he isn’t receiving his retirement checks — which he is receiving and tearing up to give him an excuse to talk to her. Masked assassins try to take him down. Not hard to find — his is the only house on the block with no Christmas decorations. But apparently they don’t realize he is Bruce Willis so they are quickly dispatched. He grabs his go bag and is off to pick up Sarah, for her own protection of course, and, well, get the band back together to figure out who’s after them this time and what they need to do about it. That includes former MI-5 agent Victoria (Mirren), nursing home resident Joe (Freeman), and Marvin (John Malcovich), a survivor of the CIA’s LSD experiments who exemplifies the truism that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you.
The sharp, witty script is expertly presented by top performers with great action scenes, a little romance, and surprise appearances by two more Oscar-winners, likely to mow down the competition at the cineplex with as much elan as they go after the bad guys.