Movie Review: RED


Director: Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Flightplan)

Screenwriters: Jon Hoeber (Whiteout) and Erich Hoeber (Whiteout)

Starring: Bruce Willis (The Sixth Sense, Die Hard, Pulp Fiction), Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds, The West Wing, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Being John Malcovich, Secretariat), Helen Mirren (The Queen, Excalibur, Calendar Girls) and Morgan Freeman (Glory, Driving Miss Daisy, Seven)

Theater – Cinemark Movies 12 – Ames, Iowa

Companion – Nader Parsaei

Food – Mongolian Buffet

Intellectual Honesty

I love Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren. They are great in everything they are in and make everything they are in better.  I don’t necessarily love Mary-Louise Parker, but since the show Weeds has been thrust upon me several times by several different people, I genuinely like her as well. I also favor Bruce Willis, but recognize that he has made just as many bad movies as good movies.


As a general rule I don’t like comic book movies.  I’m sure some comic book guy living in his parent’s basement is uttering the term “graphic novel” right now. Government conspiracy movies often do very little for me as well.

Synopsis from IMDB

Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, RED is an action-comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.

Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIAs top agents but the secrets they know just made them the Agencys top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.


I have numerous complaints about this movie.  It is hard to pick out my top complaint, but it might be the fact that the trailer reveals all the funny lines and all of the best action sequences.  There are no good surprises in the movie.  There needs to be a technical name for a movie where all of the good parts are in the trailer.  Until I figure out if there is a name for it, I’m going to call it Trailer Revelation Disease.  This movie suffers from TRD.

There are positives to the movie. The main characters are genuinely likable.  The movie is well acted. There are some decent action sequences.  There is definitely chemistry amongst the actors. That is kind of where it ends.

The main problem with RED is that it is poorly written.

There is sequence after sequence that doesn’t seem to make sense. Or dialogue that makes you scratch your head.

For example, Richard Dreyfuss shows up as the bad guy.  He gives a long speech about how he is the bad guy.

Another frustrating aspect is that Morgan Freeman is supposed to be 80 years old and suffering from Stage 4 Liver Cancer.  Morgan Freeman does not look anything like somebody that is suffering from cancer.  Let alone Stage 4.

The film dwells on setting up things, but doesn’t give you much of a payoff for what you are expecting.  For example, John Malkovich’s character makes a big deal about carrying around a stuffed pig, but when he actually opens up the pig to reveal what is inside of it isn’t anything special and it is barely used.

Another failing of the movie is with the character that is in charge of pursuing and terminating Bruce Willis’ character. By the end of the movie you are supposed to see him as an honest and likable character.  Devoted to his children.  However the scene that introduces this character to the audience shows him murdering a guy while talking to his wife on the phone. Not endearing.  Not likable.  His character doesn’t exactly go on a journey where he is “changed” either.

At the end of the day, RED is decent enough entertainment, but this cast deserved a much better written script.  Something where at the end of every scene you weren’t left wondering “why did they do that”?


2.0/5 Caramels

Buy on DVD

Not a chance, but I won’t mock people if I see this is their DVD collection.

2010 Ranking

This isn’t a Top 10 or Bottom 10 movie.

Bonus Information

Still pumped up for The Fighter and True Grit.  Cautiously optimistic about Unstoppable.  Intrigued by The Dilemma.

Up Next

Megamind, Conviction and Unstoppable