That Helen Mirren is some dame. The engaging, largely entertaining action comedy Red is most memorably highlighted by the celebrated British Oscar-winning actress (outfitted in an angelic white gown, perfect makeup, sexy hair) cranking out some wicked gunfire, sending bad men flying and diving for cover. How’s that for golden age power!
Directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife) and written by Eric Hoeber (based on the popular DC Comics’ graphic novel), Red nimbly follows a team of distinguished, long-retired CIA agents, who find themselves reluctantly drawn out of their rest when their names turn up on a sort of marked-for-death list of names, due to secrets they came by while they were the agency’s top operatives way, way back in the day. Framed for killings, they must rely on their cunning, teamwork and collective experience to outwit the relentless forces that will stop at nothing to see them dead.
Assembling a cast of such celebrated actors as Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Mirren, Red delves into an explosive and frequently intense, fast, furious and funny exercise, which establishes in the process a platform to vividly show just how well the Mirrens, Freemans and Malkoviches of Hollywood can kick ass, take names and wield a weapon as effectively as the Stathams, Jovoviches and Stallones. Willis, in a very deceptively low-key turn, proves that his Die Hard chops haven’t abandoned him; he’s still a lethal weapon. He shares good chemistry with the very useful Mary Louise Parker (Showtime’s Weeds), who is along for the ride as a sweet-spirited love interest type.
Efficient and sufficiently satisfying (though some actors are underutilized) Red is watchable fun that benefits tremendously from its seasoned cast. Come to think of it, Red (which actually stands for Retired and Extremely Dangerous) is a sort of The Expendables for the more senior showstoppers of Tinseltown. Tyrone's Verdict: B