Once in a great while I simply have little to say about a film ~ and this time it’s merely, “Bravissimo.”
I anticipated perfection given the cast, but even a superb cast can’t overcome weak filmmaking, so just a smidge of reservation lingered…. Nope. No problems there either. Red satisfies every hope and expectation.
We meet one Frank Moses living an apparently uneventful life and engaging in an ongoing phone-based flirtation with civil servant Sarah Ross. His bucolic life is upended, however, when he comes into the knowledge that he and his former colleagues ~ a crack squad of black ops assassins, specifically ~ are on someone’s hit list, at which point they regroup to address the issue. Let the games begin.
Red is the perfect action comedy, vibing on the same wavelength as True Lies. Containing completely different subject matter (well, except for the CIA), it bears the same clever wit, timing, and romantic jousting; likewise never carrying so much danger that we can’t fully enjoy our laughter, but enough that that we can never quite relax.
Director Robert Schwentke’s shots and sequences surprise at every turn, and the cinematography, editing, and effects actualize them completely. The performances, needless to say, could hardly be better, and I will now recognize costume designer Susan Lyall by name for having put together the world’s most perfect camo ensemble. The story maintains a sublime balance between tense conversation and [literally] explosive action, and with the hilarity and gravity balanced equally well, Red never lags.
If there’s anything at all to fault, it might be that for some reason agent-in-pursuit William Cooper did not sport a sling after what seemed to be a pretty nasty injury. (See what I mean? Nothing wrong here. And for the record, as far as I’m concerned Karl Urban can in perpetuity be cast in any role which heretofore would go to Brad Pitt).
On a wider note, a glorious breath of fresh air it is to see individuals over 55 portrayed as (surprise!) vital, alluring, capable, and living lives of their own (I’m feeling a new version of the Bechdel Test coming on… ~ which, by the way, Red passes; it may hinge on a technicality, but given the context I’m personally inclined to grant it). Age is merely a function of the story, and that’s it. There’s no “back when I was young,” “in my day,” or other such ridiculous reminiscence; there’s some acknowledgment that time has passed, but what makes these folks unusual is the skill set, not the skill set “for their age.”
Not that the Academy is going to pay any attention to Red (though with ten slots, anything’s possible), it’s worth noting that there’s a pretty nice precedent being set here. Reminds me a bit of Ripley in the early 80’s; there was no big deal made about her status as second in command; she just was, and that’s it. Red’s cherry on top is an honest-to-goodness age-appropriate romance in which the 55-year-old guy actually (surprise!) enjoys and pursues someone over 40.
See it with friends, see it with a date, see it on your own. Even if not to the Academy’s taste, Red remains one of the best films we’ll see this year.
Starring Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Karl Urban, Brian Cox, and Richard Dreyfuss, Red opens in Houston in Oct 15th; check Fandango for listings.