"He's got time to kill."
Rarely Eat Dairy. Rich Elderly Dudes...
So as a means of apologizing for reminding the world about Batman & Robin, I decided to talk today about a movie that I thought was pretty cool, rather than one that was so bad that I think it made me a little bit dumber. Red was a movie that came out during the middle of the Fall season of 2010 to what can only be described as a lukewarm reception. Despite the almost complete lack of competition, Red finished out its opening weekend in second, behind Jackass 3-D of all things. my feelings about that can't be expressed in type or human language, amounting to a sort of guttural rage noise. Setting that aside, the movie did at least garner mostly positive reviews from movie sites, so I don't need to go on some rage filled hate-tirade like I've had to with some other movies that I put into the 'overlooked' category. Unlike a number of other films that would fall into this category, I don't have a great explanation for why it performed so tepidly, save that it had a nearly non-existent marketing campaign. I think maybe I saw a trailer for it at the beginning of another movie and that was it. A damn shame too.

Real American Heroes.
Red is a film very loosely based on a three issue comic book mini-series issued by WildStorm. When I say very loosely I mean it, the main character doesn't even have the same name, so it might be more accurate to say it was inspired by the comic. The film follows the exploits of retired CIA operative, Frank Moses (portrayed by Bruce Willis) who goes back into action after a hit team tries to kill him in his home one night for reasons unclear. Up to that point, he'd been making up excuses to call Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker, probably best known as the star of the television series Weeds), the customer service agent at his pension office, because he was bored and lonely. Frank realizes that the people coming to kill him will probably also try to kill her, because he's been calling so much, so he more or less kidnaps her and then sets about trying to figure out who's trying to have him killed and why, while being pursued by young gun CIA agent William Cooper (portrayed by Karl Urban you might know him as Dr. McCoy in the recent Star Trek movie). Along the way Frank picks up several former associates who help him out. These include his mentor Joe, played by Morgan Freeman, Victoria (Helen Mirren) a former wetwork operative, and Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) a former black ops agent who is certifiably insane, so presumably Malkovich doesn't have to act much.

I don't think any of us are surprised.
This setup should not be an unfamiliar one for anyone who watches movies starring Bruce Willis. He's been coming out of retirement/suspension/whatever to kick people's asses since I was about ten years old. It's what he does. I am totally convinced that in the future, a mostly robotic Bruce Willis will continue to kick the bad guys right in their jewels. I simply don't want to live in a future space world where he doesn't (in other words I want to live in the future space world in The Fifth Element). Despite the fact that Mr. Willis is now working his way through his late 50s he still manages to beat the holy hell out of teams of wetwork specialists, and look convincing doing it.

This movie gets the comedy tag because, while it is certainly an action movie, and there are heaping helpings of explosive violence, this movie was definitely also designed to be comedic. There are no attempts here to be realistic, and the violence is meant to provide a stark backdrop to or setup for the antics of the characters, rather than to be gritty or meaningful. This is simply feel good Bruce Willis ass-stomping, with a crazy hallucinating John Malkovich riding shotgun, strapped with explosives. For the most part the conflict that preoccupies Frank's mind throughout the movie isn't trying to find the people who want to kill him. He does that as a matter of course because it was his job and he was really good at it. His problem is that his black-ops life left him apparently zero time to develop the ability to talk to girls, and his relationship with his dream girl has started off pretty bad because he kidnapped her and left her tied up and gagged in his car. Frank Moses is simultaneously very skilled, and also terrifically awkward, and that combined with the interplay between mostly him and Malkovich really make the movie funny. As a action-comedy this movie succeeded for me in a big way.

       Despite pretty weak opening grossing the movie ended up doing somewhere around 186 million worldwide, and that was apparently good enough for the execs to greenlight a sequel, which is supposed to be headed our way sometime late next summer. I'm hoping it will be as good as this one was, despite the lack of Morgan Freeman (used to much better effect here than in... other movies I've talked about). Of course I might be a little biased as a quick perusal of my older posts will show that I have built a metaphysical shrine here to Bruce Willis, and I will admit that I will watch any movie where John Malkovich is weird (in other words a movie he is in). I can wholeheartedly recommend this flick though, you won't regret it.
Shit doesn't end well for Richard Dreyfuss.
Next week I open with more action-comedy, this time in the form of 90s Schwarzenegger film True Lies,  before jumping back to the present to give my impressions of the Dark Knight Rises, which for those of you hiding in a deep dark hole opens this weekend.

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