RED - Blu-ray Review

'Willis is allowed to progress through the film almost comatose, barely raising his voice and frequently pulling out the 'Willis Stare' (tilt head back, look down nose, wry smile optional)'

Men with big guns are back in fashion. Well, they were. For a time. Like everything else, we already appear to have already moved on from last Summer's fad of producing films which appeared to have been greenlit in the late eighties. Now, dontcha know, the watchword is once again science-fiction. Before it came and went though the mini genre revival had brought us The A-Team (poor), The Expendables (poor) and The Losers (a bit above poor). RED - which belongs in the action genre but is, like The Losers, based on a comic book property - is the best of this bunch of misfits.

The reason behind Robert Schwentke's film's success is almost entirely down to the tone he chooses. The script is fine but unremarkable, the plot is your average kind of conspiracy thriller and the acting is good but Schwentke does what all the previously mentioned films missed out on; he establishes a tone which, whilst reverent to the material, is not above poking fun at the genre either.

And so we get a 'plinky-plonky' score straight out of a comedy or, perhaps more aptly, a cheap eighties hotel lift. We get Bruce Willis who's got relationship issues and is allowed to progress through the film almost comatose, barely raising his voice and frequently pulling out the 'Willis Stare' (tilt head back, look down nose, wry smile optional). We get Mary-Louise Parker who seems to be doing an impression of a slightly older, but none-the-less kooky, Zooey Deschanel. We get John Malkovich being, well, John Malkovich and Karl Urban whose character appears to have wandered straight from the set of one of the Bourne films. Schwentke blends all this together into something which, although methodical and at times downright slow is, well, a bloody great deal of fun.

Sarah (Parker) is a great invention, grounding the piece in a bit of real-world believability amongst all the spy games and big guns. Her progression serves as a metaphor for the audience; we want this kind of escapism, need it even - we're happy to watch loud explosions. So long as it remains fun.

And the point where Schwentke makes it obvious that he's going to allow RED to remain fun? Where Brian Cox is allowed to trot out his ludicrously awful Russian accent. Like Sean Connery after too many whiskeys trying to wrap his lips around 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious', its a mess, but a brilliant and rather hilarious one despite the flaws which, happily, you kind of stop noticing at about the point where Dame Helen Mirren starts firing assault rifles.




Look further...

'missing the memorable one-liners and style of [Willis'] past movies' - Reel Talk, C+

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