This year has seen quite a few action movies involving a team up of a group of people with pretty awesome abilities with guns, fighting etc. We had the two 80’s throwbacks with The A-Team and The Expendables, both of which delivering on the fun, with The Expendables being that one step better for having such a kick-ass cast and not being afraid to push the envelope with its violence. The Losers followed a similar format as well, although I am yet to see that one. Now we have RED, which also succeeds in delivering in terms of very fun entertainment with a cast on top form and sharp wit to go along with the very cool action.

The title refers to a Government stamp which stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous, a label that ex-Black Ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has found himself stamped with. He is soon the target of Government operatives and has to use his superior skills to stay one step ahead. With the girl he fancies (Mary Louise Parker) in tow Moses goes out to find out why they are after him now, in order to do this he must reassemble his old team and take on the system. As is always the case, Moses and his crew find out that the conspiracy goes all the way to the top. The plot leads itself to a madcap cross state journey going all around the country in search of leads and of leading to some fun action set pieces. They’re not quite as bonkers as The A-Team and not as gritty as The Expendables but it is certainly is its own original very tongue-in-cheek action. And there is something very appealing about watching Helen Mirren operate a big ass machine gun.

In fact one of the most appealing factors of this movie is its cast. Bruce Willis in the lead reminds us once again how effortlessly cool he is. He can still hold his own in action scenes, the moment he steps out of a police car whilst it’s drifting around a corner and fires at his attacker is one of the coolest scenes I have seen this year. But his character Moses is a very layered one, not just a gung-ho ‘best at what he does’ type. Along with all the action, Willis gets to try his hand at dealing with a romantic subplot along with the action. He shows a gentler side, a vulnerable and accessible side and you realise behind all the guns and ass kicking, he is just a guy trying to get the girl he likes to like him back. The girl in question is Mary Louise Parker, who is really letting her hair down from more dramatic roles like The Assasination of Jessie James By the Coward Robert Ford, and is a bubbly treat here, making the pairing of her and Willis surprisingly sweet. John Malkovich as super paranoid agent Marvin Boggs is absolutely mental, which makes him brilliant, he too has a great action moment. Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman add a touch of class to the proceedings, although they don’t quite get to shine in the action stakes, particularly Freeman. Karl Urban is one of the most interesting characters in this film playing the government operative who is on Moses tail, but soon starts to realise that he himself may be being played by a higher power.

The tone of the movie is what does knock it off kilter at times, the action going from funny to full-out kick-ass (particularly the fight scene between Willis and Urban). It remains entertaining but does stop the film from flowing quite as freely as it should. The dialogue though remains witty and quick through out though which maintains the tongue in cheek style. I haven’t read the comic books from which this film is based, but it is a much lighter take from what I hear. It seems strange that this decision was made to make it more audience friendly, as dark and unconventional comic book movies such as Kick-Ass shows that being ballsy does pay off. The ending as well to this film is quite weak, it feels a bit cheesy and where it seemed like a possible sequel was going to be set up, it turns it into a throw away gag which isn’t all that funny. The overall impression of the movie is slightly effected by this, but all in all this is a film that does what it says on the tin, providing entertaining action that is just a hell of a lot of fun to sit back and watch.

4/5- RED delivers what you’d expect from a fun action movie with a top-notch cast, particularly Bruce Willis and Karl Urban, with a witty script to match. There’s no school like the old school.

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