Originally Reviewed – 11/15/2010
Movies are a mixture. A concoction of actors, story, directors and editors whose united effort creates the goulash we know as film, movies ultimately depend on having the right ingredients in the right combination. Like any recipe, sometimes the stew is d’lish and sometimes it tastes like a giant mess of Crock Pot slop. While Red has a fun concept and great poster presence, the execution is a classic example of opportunity squandered. To stick with the analogy, Red doesn’t exactly make you want to wretch but this is not an entree that you’ll want to revisit anytime soon.
And, man, with this kind of talent on the movie poster, this should have been one tasty meal. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman make up the team of retired-CIA operatives on a mission to prevent a budding conspiracy and, at the same time, prevent their own assassinations. The actors do the best they can with the material given. Willis is mildly believable as the head of the group, Freeman is average (despite the fact his average is most people’s excellent) and Mirren shines every time she’s on screen. The main acting fouls are committed by Malkovich, who horribly overacts and Mary-Louise Parker as Willis’ love interest. While Malkovich has sadly become a caricature on the level of William Shatner, it’s Parker who is the biggest disappointment. Wooden, weird and unbelievable as Willis’ love interest, Parker does nothing with the meager script she’s given. Also, much of the comedic aspects rest on her shoulders and literally nothing that came out of her mouth made me laugh. Not a good start for a comedic action movie.
Unfortunately, the script didn’t help. Sloppily written and directed even worse, the film suffers from jarring time shifts, poor continuity and a shocking lack of laughs from this alleged “act-com”. Not to say much should be expected from the esteemed director of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Flightplan, but actors of this caliber deserve much better. In the end, Red is a barely passable diversion and not much else. Nothing pesters me more than when good actors struggle under sloppy direction and Red is a prime example of this. Not to say the film doesn’t have its moments of fun and madcap explosions, but if I have to suffer with one more scene of Parker and Willis trying to convince of me that they’re madly in love, in the midst of her “kidnapping” no less, I’m punching out, Maverick. Hokey, silly and ultimately a waste of 111 minutes, Red had the potential to satisfy my sweet tooth but the end result is nothing more than an inedible pile of mush.
Score – 50%