Where do old CIA agents go to retire, well they either get really old and lecherous, go crazy, assimilate into polite society or just get lonely and bored – RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous)
Frank Moses (Willis) is going down the lonely route, phoning his pension benefits clerk each week for a chat to chase his benefits cheque (Louise-Parker), all perky nosed and cute. A cheque he has already received, which he deftly rips in half as he talks to her.
Following a re-modelling of his house courtesy of the “9 Millimeter” interior design company, Moses gets to meet face to face with his long time phone buddy. Seconds later they are on the run picking up Moses old “Wet Ops” CIA buddies, Joe (Freeman), Marvin (Malkovich) and Victoria (Mirren) as they seek to uncover the truth behind recent events and clear their names.
The group is closely followed by the dogged and government authorized assassin William Cooper (Urban), all set to kill Moses for reasons not specified, let alone barely mentioned.
Moses of course is trained in everything, adept in the use of weapons, hand to hand combat and Mandarin if and when required. A colossal fight with his younger counterpart inspired partly by being called “Grandpa”.
The premise is good and with a great cast including Richard Dreyfuss and Brian Cox, this should be a rollicking action comedy, with the oldies kicking serious butt.
The tone for such a film is very important, comedy sits very uneasily with brutal action and here the balance is not quite right. Whereas the A-Team is all about fantasy, this skews closer to reality in places and feels uncomfortable at times with the mix of humour and “movie” real life, this is especially true of Marvin’s paranoid fantasies.
Heavy weapons, gunfire and exploding cars can be fun but this is a heavy hitter cast list and yet we get very few chances to hear or see the interplay between the group. We see the occasional glimpse, a wry Willis smirk or glance from Helen Mirren, admitting the occasional contract on the side as she misses the thrill. The actors are just not utilised enough, why assemble a great cast and then present nameless stuntmen/women perform cool stunts for most of the running time?
Of course anything with Mirren firing heavy weaponry with a sardonic grin cannot be all bad but it cannot sustain a 115 minute film on this alone. Hopefully breaking into the Pentagon is easier than having old soviet spy buddies help you out but one ever knows these things for sure.
Moses might also be reminded that driving around heavy traffic with a duct taped woman in the back seat, with the world and his wife owning mobile phones, might, just might, raise suspicion?
Undeniably mindless fun perhaps but a real let down following the initial trailers and expectation of a character driven film with added action, not the other way round.
File under rather disappointing, or alternatively, somewhat wasted opportunity.