Red (2010)

Red is a 2010 action film directed by Robert Schwentke. It stars Bruce Willis as Miller who, as the title indicates, is RED (Retired and Extremely Dangerous). Recently forced into retirement, Miller is having difficulty adjusting to the retired life and spends his time sitting around, watering an avocado, and talking with a customer service agent named Sarah Roses (Mary-Louise Parker). Soon after the film begins, Miller comes under attack from a hit squad. This leads him to believe that Sarah is also in danger, so after fending off the attack, he packs up and goes to Kansas City to protect her. The pair hit the road and soon run into a large cast of other retirees.

The most prominently featured secondary cast member is Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich). He’s really the only character that Miller and Sarah run into that actually gets the screentime they deserve. The additional characters actually make the film more entertaining, because when they aren’t around, Miller and Sarah mostly just spend their time going from place to place. The action only really kicks once they recruit the ever-rotating number of characters they meet.

It’s really a shame that Red lacks so much in the action department, because that is the biggest thing it had going for it. Seeing good, albeit old, actors involved in crazy shootouts and other over-the-top action sequences is something that I was really hoping to see from Red. Instead, I got some mediocre actions scenes that occur only intermittently between the plot points being hammered out or scenes that attempt to be dramatic. They are too infrequent and mediocre to really be effective at keeping the audience entertained.

What actually takes the most time out of the action is the film’s attempt to actually explore what it would be like to go from being an action star to a retiree. Sadly, none of these scenes really add up to anything. They seem there just to kill time, and never actually explore this idea in as much depth as I had hoped.

It was supposed to be a fairly humorous film with high-profile stars involved in exciting action scenes. The only part of that premise that really happens is that the film does have high-profile stars.

Seeing as how the majority of the actors in the film have been around for a long time, one would believe that at the very least, the acting of the film would be really good. While it isn’t bad, nobody, except Willis, stood out. The characters are all fairly one-dimensional, and none of them show any real depth. They seem to always know pretty much all that is going on, and seem to hope that the action scenes would carry the entire film. When actual depth is attempted, the film falls flat. It becomes boring, and this isn’t helped by mediocre acting.

Even though none of the actors really made an impact on me, the film was still better when more of the actors were on the screen. The action scenes appeared to be waiting for there to be at least 3 main characters to show up before anything would happen. Bruce Willis actually does carry the majority of the film, and is the one constant throughout. The other characters come and go, seemingly at will, so you can never get used to any specific one.

If there’s one thing that Red does have in its favor, it’s the fact that it is intermittently humorous. Some scenes, like the opener, are actually really funny. Sadly, this level of humor does not keep at a high level throughout and ends up becoming kind of dry by the end. The times where the film is funny mostly come from Willis playing the entire thing with a straight face, while dealing with everyone else that is around him. There are certainly times where Red will make you burst out laughing, but those times are quickly replaced with boredom.

Red was a film that I actually had fairly high hopes for. It was supposed to be a fairly humorous film with high-profile stars involved in exciting action scenes. The only part of that premise that really happens is that the film does have high-profile stars. It’s just too bad that they aren’t really given all that much to do, and what they are given isn’t all that entertaining. The film does have times where it is really funny, and a couple big action scenes, but the gaps between these almost managed to make me want to fall asleep. There just isn’t all that much to Red. It doesn’t really explore what getting old is like, it isn’t incredibly funny, and what action scenes it does have are too infrequent to actually matter.

Conclusion: Red is a disappointment.

Recommendation: It doesn’t have strong enough action or enough laughs to be worth watching.

Rating: **

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