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Red (2010)

I remember the CIA being tougher.

— Marvin Boggs

I was sold going to see Red was when the image of the regal Helen Mirren in holding a machine gun spraying at the bad guys. I was over for me. I had very little knowledge of the limited comic book series created by Warren Ellis a couple of years ago. My research showed that the comic and film are two different entities and I wish that it was like the comic book.

Former CIA black ops agent, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is not content been retired, living alone in his empty Cleveland house. The only break to his monotonous life is calling a customer service rep for the Social Security Administration, Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) who he likes.

In the middle of the night, a group of South African militants try to kill Frank, but he quickly disposes of them. He sets out on a road trip that vaguely reminds me of Knight and Day last summer. Frank knows that the people trying to kill him bugged his phone. Sarah could be in danger. He is considered R.E.D. which means “Retired Extremely Dangerous.” Going to Kansas City, the reception of Frank’s presence is not what he expected. He has no choice but to kidnap and protect her.

After the botched assassination attempt, CIA operative William Cooper (Karl Urban) is dispatched to personally bring down Moses, because of what he knows about a mission in Guatemala in 1981.

Frank knows the same information when a New York Times reporter is killed because of uncovering the story and compiling a list of people who where there. Frank seeks the advice of fellow Joe (Morgan Freeman), who is in a rest home in New Orléans to find out who is still alive and find out why the CIA is coming after old operatives in their retirement.

They enlist the help of Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) who due to his years long exposure to LSD is extremely paranoid about anything and everyone around him and a former assassin for the MI-6, Victoria (Helen Mirren) to bring down the bad guys once and for all.

Learning about the original comic plot with Moses dealing squarely with the CIA would have been a great action thriller. I don’t mind that writers Erich and Jon Hoeber made dramatic changes to the movies to make a team of retired operatives taking down their former bosses, but I thought the movies was very clunky. I understand that director, Robert Schwentke wanted to make an action comedy, but the romance part of the movie with Frank and Sarah seemed off-putting. An act of Stockholm Syndrome in a comedy is a fantastic plot device. (I was being sarcastic.) Some of the jokes fell on deaf ears.

I did enjoy the actors, especially Helen Mirren (My girl) and Malcovich! The action sequences were expertly well done. I enjoyed the hell out of the movie when that was going on, but the rest left a lot of be desired.

Judgment: Helen Mirren shooting a machine gun. Come on. It can’t get any better than that.

Rating: ***

The Dirty Dozen (1967)


You know what to do, feed the French and shoot the Germans!

— Major John Reisman

The Dirty Dozen is a subversive take on WWII soldiers and combat. Quentin Tarantino possibly borrowed some elements of this movie for his latest effort, Inglourious Basterds, which is set to be released in August. Killing a whole bunch of Nazis is fine. If the story drags along at a snail’s pace, you don’t care about a bunch of Nazi annihilation.

Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin), a hotshot officer is assigned to head a secret operation to wipe out the upper echelon of Third Reich in one fail swoop. He has to train a dozen of criminals for a limited amount of time to be able to carry out the mission.

The premise of the story was great. It’s the execution that falls short. Some of the characters were so wacky and off-kilter that you cannot root for them in the final battle.

This movie was two and half hours long. There were instances of deja vu that the same scene played repeatedly. It felt like a chore to watch this movie. It needed some serious edits. After a while, you don’t care about the story.

Judgment: Don’t bother watching this unless you want to see criminals killing Nazis. Fast forward to the end.

Rating: **1/2

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