Fight Film Friday: RED

Posted: October 22, 2010 in fight film friday
Tags: ,


USA, 2010

Genre: Action, Comedy, Spy

111 minutes

Bruce Willis leads and all-star cast as Frank Moses, a Retired and Extremely Dangerous CIA operative who becomes entangled in a political conspiracy thirty years in the making.

It’s refreshing to see Bruce Willis back in action since his small cameo in the Expendables earlier this year. While he has aged considerably, like Stallone, Trejo, and other stars appearing from years past, it seems like Willis has done so much more gracefully than the others. RED is fun and full of fireworks, really playing up the idea of experience over youth in a world full of deadly assassins and one-person wrecking crews. Based on the Warren Ellis comic of the same name, director Robert Schwentke really expanded and developed the universe and characters from the original graphic novel. The movie feels pretty hokey in places, but in an endearing way. Some of the design and motion graphic elements feel out of place, adding to the sense of kitsch that pervades the film. There’s a running theme of travel postcards, but the graphics didn’t seem to really contribute in any meaningful way. Still, the pace and editing is suitably high-energy and entertaining, using a funktastic soundtrack provided by Christophe Beck. It plays up the cheesiness fittingly, and although a bit predictable, suits the feel of the rest of the movie.

It’s apparent that Willis and the rest of the cast really had a ball this one. Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren all deliver highly entertaining performances, playing off each other like old friends who just happen to kill people. The dialogue isn’t the greatest, and is downright uninspired in places, but they all make it work as best they can. The biggest issue was the lack of chemistry between Willis and the love-interest played by Mary-Louise Parker. Willis is awkwardly charming, but the believability of the romance between him and the younger woman seems strange and, while not impossible, more than a bit suspect. The story itself isn’t spectacular, and has a tendency to jump around in a jarring fashion. Still, there’s a decent amount of political intrigue, even if Willis’ idea of espionage is to just barrel forward and take what he wants. It’s not exactly a spy movie, but there’s enough twists to keep you guessing.

The action feels directly out of the comic book it was inspired by. A solid budget towards stunts and effects mean lots of explosions and shoot outs, and it looks great. Nothing particularly new or innovative, but the image of Mirran behind a machine gun is definitely a highlight. Also deserving mention is the fantastic fist fight between Willis and the villain Karl Urban. Hard-hitting and well-shot, it’s the best action sequence in the film. Some of the MMA and wrestling elements seem a bit out of place with them throwing coffee mugs, phones, and file cabinets at each other, but the amazing BJJ submission pulled off at the end makes it worth it. Overall, RED is a solid value if you need a fight film fix this fall, but I wouldn’t expect it to be on anyone’s Christmas list in the future.

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