Move over Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren’s come to town!
We’ve seen loads of young Hollywood actresses pour themselves into catsuits and wield guns and knives, but Mirren, as retired CIA agent Victoria, does it with a tartness and intelligence that breathes fresh air into an overplayed idea in Summit’s ”Red”.
Based on the DC Comics series by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner (yes, another comic book turned movie), retired CIA agents are framed and pitted against current agents in this new film directed by Robert Schwentke (”The Time Traveler’s Wife”) and written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber (”Whiteout”).
Mirren is joined by Bruce Willis as RED (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) CIA agent Frank Moses. Moses is trying to move on with his life after retiring from the CIA and flirts with love interest Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker from ”Weeds”). The top secret information that Moses knows puts him in harms way and Ross is dragged into the mess because of her involvement with Moses. Moses works on re-teaminig with his old CIA crew, including Victoria, Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman) and the hilariously eager Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich).
Acting-wise, Malkovich steals the film. His Boggs is a zany, paranoid former CIA Agent with zezt. The character is terrifically written – he hides weapons in stuffed pigs and gets near all of the one liners that makes the film move along. Willis is solid but comes off too insincere in the scenes where he is supposed to come off sweet and sympathetic.
Karl Urban (”Star Trek” / McCoy), does a solid job playing William Cooper, the CIA agent heading up the hunt for Moses. There’s a bit more depth with his character, as he is trying to do the right thing but doesn’t know what is right in this situation.
Though the film does move uncomfortably into cartoon territory at times, “Red” is a fun film compete with effective twists and turns, and, as I said, some fun performances.
Here’s my vote for the Boggs spin-off!