What is it one can really say about the film Red? It does happen to get off to a good ambling start but somewhere along the way the novelty wears off. One of the highlights of the film is the siege upon Frank Moses’ (Bruce Willis) house. That is very early on.
While the film never takes a narrative jump too big it does progressively grow its web of conspiracy to a very high level. It was much more enjoyable and relatable when it was on a more personally based. The more entanglements of politics and the military-industrial complex that get mixed into it the less effective it becomes.
This is also a film with a rather interesting albeit not always overly-successful tonality to it. It’s part comedy, part action and part drama. The comedic never takes things too far out of the realm of believability and is always well-placed. It’s the action sequences that make you think a bit too much about what the real ramifications of these events would be.
Where it does succeed, however, is that almost all the drama flows out of the characters as opposed to the situation which is why we remain involved in this particular tale.
The cast of this film is another thing that keeps a rather thin premise barely above water. Deserving first mention is a most welcome turn from Academy-Award winner Ernest Borgnine. It’s always good to see screen legends of a previous age getting legitimate work in today’s Hollywood. Bruce Willis is his usual action-star self in this vehicle and unlike some members of The Expendables doesn’t look out of place still playing an action lead.
Perhaps what’s best about these performances is that they did serve the story and weren’t merely used as adornment. John Malkovich’s character is a prime example. He brings forth most of the comedy in this title and it is due in large part to his paranoia. We find out through the course of the story that his paranoia is, in fact, perfect and he ends up being a great asset to the team and not a detriment.
Another way in which this film falls a little short is being too cute when you don’t have to. Without giving too much away there is a twist regarding the whereabouts of Morgan Freeman’s character. It is so blatantly obvious that they later waste a cut to reveal the “trick.” I highly doubt a high percentage of the audience was that fooled such that it was necessary and it really wasn’t needed to better convey the tale.
Red is a funny and entertaining film but ultimately the promise it shows early on is never followed through and it ends up being a rather forgettable experience when the opposite was promised.