The big screen adaptation of the DC comic by the same title, R.E.D. features Bruce Willis as retired CIA agent, Frank Moses. Frank has a pretty quiet and lonely life, having spent so many years honing his skills as one of the best agents in the business has left him now aged and retired with a void in his life that he is clearly yearning to fill. He continuously tears up pension cheques so that he can telephone the call centre to claim that he hasn’t received the cheques as a rather tragic effort of some kind of human interaction; this is where he begins to sprout a fantasy relationship with Sarah, one of the clerks who handles the pension accounts.
Without warning, one night Frank is attacked by a squad of would-be CIA assassins, whom he easily takes out (he was the best, remember). Frank has no clue why the CIA is trying to kill him, but he can’t worry about that right away because he has to locate Sarah and make sure she’s safe since the CIA, seeing he calls her 24 times a month or so, has realized she could be a means of getting to him.
From there the adventure begins with deep conspiracies, dozens of red herrings, and a boatload of explosions and gunfights. Thankfully all this seriousness is kept light with the terrific comedic placement, and the budding romance drama happening between Frank and Sarah.
For a good story to be told well though, a film needs a strong cast, and R.E.D. does not lack that strong supporting cast that is so often overlooked in comic book movies. The cast is rounded out by Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, John Malkovich (who is very funny in this movie) and the always incomparable Morgan Freeman; seriously, any movie would be made better with Morgan Freeman in any role, he just has so much charm and grace that he brings to the screen that his presence boosts the merit of the movie just by his mere presence… yes I have a huge man-crush on Morgan Freeman. The movie was at times very close to being stolen by Karl Urban as he plays a brash young CIA agent full of ambition and not as full of experience to draw from. His villain role was very well done as he portrayed that he wasn’t a bad person, he is a human being with loved ones, weaknesses, dreams and ambitions just like any other person; he’s just doing his job and he shows on screen the conflict going on inside him as he becomes conflicted with doing his job and the uncovering of whether or not he’s doing the job for the good guys or the bad guys. Urban was an ideal antagonist because of that relevance to anyone else, and it was impossible to hate him because he would do exactly what anyone else would do.
The action is right up there with the classic action flicks you know and love, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and any other metro action film would be proud of this tale of espionage and gun-slinging. The action has it’s silly moments where you have to suspend your belief, but it’s nowhere near the absurdity of a Michael Bay film or The Expendables. One of the great draws about the action of this film is that it’s not excessively gory or bloody, yes there’s some blood because it is an action movie, but the story had enough depth to it that it didn’t require the cheap draw of over-abundant gore.
Again, the other big draw of this film was also the comedy. Most action films risk entering the cheesie zone when they try to incorporate comedy into the mix, but R.E.D. had just enough subtle humour to keep the mood light but didn’t detract from the action or the urgency of the story, it was a very rarely well handled blending of the two; yes there was also in-your-face style humour that was about as subtle as a brick in the head, but those comedic elements were never done to the point of obnoxious.
All in all this film is totally worth going and checking out; it’s not really a family film, so you may want to leave the kids at home depending on how heavily you censor what they see, but the movie is a very viewer-friendly action film that can be accessible to many audiences because the action and explosions doesn’t take priority over the enjoyable story and charming characters.