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Starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker, James Remar, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine
Screenplay by Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber
Based on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner
Directed by Robert Schwentke

IN SHORT: Rockin' Sockin' fun! [Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language. 111 minutes]

Somewhere out in our readership-land is a particularly cranky youngster who hasn't reached thirty yet -- who is already yelping that all Red is is "a bunch of old folks shooting guns; destroying everything but the target." Of course, those of us with a decade or two or three of genre-ic films under our belts know that if you substitute something like "rookie cops" for "old folks" you'd have any of dozens of films released in the last zillion years. Some lousy. Some terrific. Some somewhere in the middle. So, dear young crankster . . . get stuffed.

Think of it this way: when you team such A-list talents as Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and the always interesting John Malkovich and let them play -- not only off of each other but with firearms to boot -- it is going to be very hard to mess things up so badly that the resulting film would be unwatchable. We screened three A-list films this week. Two of them had us wishing for death. Red reset our internal clockwork to about 1974 or so.

Of course, we were still reading comics back in 1974, long before names like Moore and Gaiman and Warren Ellis had become household names. (Oh give this fanboy a break. Moore and Gaiman's books have already hit the big screen. Ellis, on the other hand, always wrote adult-oriented comics without slipping to the underground feel of the stuff that came out of San Fran in the 1960s. His version of Red, a three issue miniseries featuring one over the hill cop, has been expanded for the big screen to a quartet of don't you dare call them over the hill cops . . . first of all our heroes are all ace CIA assassins long retired to houses in the country since the end of the Cold War. Second of all, only some idiot youth in a suit would think it would be best to "clean house" and have all four put out of the new, lean and mean CIA organization. We include MI6 in that CIA slag and just in case we're being obtuse . . .

Simply, some kid administrator figures that having retired CIA killers walking the planet could potentially make the Agency look bad. So squads of FBI trained killers are sent out to, uh, kill the pro killers beginning with Frank Moses (Bruce Willis). Dumb CIA . . . sending in the FBI . . . you complete the slur. One of Cranky's college buddies is an FBI agent and we don't need any trouble <g>.

If Red were as simple as shoot and shoot back, there wouldn't be much to talk about. But the screenplay takes the shoot 'em up spy vs spy story in a whole 'nother direction, one seen only in the pages of Mad magazine. It gets funny. Then it gets really funny. And, even as characters actually get hit by bullets, Red remains funny.

And that is as much as we got written before sitting for the two other A-list releases for the week. Both were so insufferably awful that we couldn't finish the good stuff properly before a nor'easter took aim at New York. Storms like that, even if they miss a direct hit, do not play well with our disabilities. So we'll put it simply:

Red is the good stuff. For once, just take our word for it.On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Red, he would have paid . . .


more fun than a punch in the face -- yeah, yeah. If that were funny we'd be doing standup. Go see Red. Have a good time.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.