Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


           When I saw the coming attractions for RED 2, I remembered that I had wanted to see the original film when it hit theaters in 2010.  I have no idea why I didn't see it then, but the sequel looked hysterical and I wasn't about to view a sequel without first seeing the original RED.

Based on a limited comic book series from Homage, an imprint of DC Comics, RED stars Bruce Willis as retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses.  Frank has tried to settle into a normal life, but can't seem to figure out how to do so.  He becomes involved in a telephone relationship with Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), a customer service representative from the GSA pension office in Kansas City.  Sarah's life isn't much more exciting and she finds herself looking forward to Frank's calls, but she also finds his proposal to meet when he is in town a bit daunting.

Unfortunately, she won't have a choice in the matter.  You see, Frank and several other individuals involved in a clean-up mission in Guatemala in the early 1980s have found themselves targeted for termination.  After an attempt on his life takes place in his own home, Frank travels to Kansas City to place Sarah under his protective custody...whether she wants it or not. 

Meanwhile, Frank must find several retired agents known to the CIA as REDs (Retired and Extremely Dangerous ).  They include his mentor Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), paranoid conspiracy theorist Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), former Russian secret agent Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox) and former MI6 agent Victoria Winters (Helen Mirren).  Together, the group must uncover who is behind the plot to kill everyone involved in the Guatemala clean-up operation and neutralize the threat before the threat neutralizes them.

Although I have watched and enjoyed quite a few Bruce Willis films, I'm not a huge fan of his acting.  I find that he seems to play the same role in each movie he makes lately.  That action hero guy with a soft heart can only take you so far.  Of course, the role of Frank Moses isn't much different from his other roles, but there is something about the character that is the tiniest bit different, making him enjoyable for me.  Mary-Louise Parker is fun as the action/adventure deprived Sarah who, after a little resistance, finds herself warming up the idea of playing hero.

John Malkovich is downright strange and so he plays the character of Marvin Boggs perfectly.  His facial expressions and constant paranoia are hysterical and I don't think they could have found anyone better to play the role.  Morgan Freeman is simply as cool as he always is in his role.  Despite pretending to be a hardnosed ex-secret agent, Brian Cox turns out to be a teddy bear as Ivan who reveals a secret love for Victoria.  And speaking of Victoria: Helen Mirren simply steals the show as Victoria Winters.  This role is such a departure from Mirren's previous ones that you can't help but notice.  She is not exactly one you would expect to rock out in an action role, so when she does, you find yourself rooting for her all the way, loving her character and embracing it completely.

The storyline of RED is a tad vague as many comic book storylines can be, but the action, adventure and charisma between the major players in this film more than makes up for it.  This film is an action fan's dream with hand-to-hand combat, car chases, explosions, big guns, name it!  The end is somewhat predictable, but who cares when getting there is so much fun!  I should have seen RED along time ago when it first hit the theaters.  I can't wait to see RED 2!

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