Film Review: RED

Directed by Robert Schwentke
Written by: John and Erich Hoeber
Starring: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Mary Louise Parker, John Malkovich
Released: October 12, 2010.
111 minutes
I had planned to talk about THE SOCIAL NETWORK next. But a toxic mixture of antihistamines and red wine decked me ten minutes into it. I need to see it again—after allergy season or before dinner. Then I thought I would tell you about MADEMOISELLE CHAMBON, a French love story. But I decided talking about a movie I was tepid about that had no criminal elements and no action—and I mean none—was not so wise.
Which brings me to RED. I saw RED with five other people—yes I still travel in posses—advisable after a certain age to avoid trouble in suburban mall parking lots or in the film RED. Three people loved RED, three of us hated it. Notice the “us.”
PLOT: Bruce Willis, and why bother with the name of his character since he always plays Bruce Willis, is a former CIA agent, now designed as RED: Retired and Extremely Dangerous. Some determined assassins are after him, taking down his house board by board with ammo. He rounds up his old posse, (boy, and how many times have we watched this,) and prepares to uncover the plot. Along on the trip is Willis’ new love interest played by Mary Louise Parker, the only bright spot in the film.
You can predict whether the band of geezers succeeds.
The success of the jokes in this comedy depend on whether you think old guys still packing heat and ruminating about their ardor for killing people is funny. And when I wasn’t bored, I was squirming. Too many allusions, both physical and verbal, reminded me of current threats to elected officials. A Russian in the film says that it’s been too long since he murdered a president. I don’t have much tolerance for statements like that given the number of death threats the Secret Service turns up every day. And once again, the rounds of fire exchanged between sides with no one getting killed seemed ludicrous. Helen Mirren is shot in one scene and emerges wearing the same white dress in the next, blood and bullet gone. I’d like to know what that ladies room carries: a surgeon and a dry-cleaner both, I guess.
But as I said, three very smart, Ph.D.-carrying people, liked RED. They were able to suspend whatever I couldn’t and go along. I have also seen favorable reviews online by people I respect. So it may be I am super- sensitive or need red wine before going to the movies.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.