Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Geezer Watch: Red (2010)

Sometime in the long, long ago I read the Warren Ellis/ Cully Hamner comic, Red.  I've lukewarm on Ellis, feel he's pretty good but feel like he's a guy who always thinks he's smarter than he actually is and writes better than he actually does, and I think his ability to form an online cult in the 00's made him lazy.  Hamner, however, I think is one of the finest comics artists of his generation, so he's got that going for him, and it really made Red a better comic than it had a right to be.

I probably wouldn't have bothered with the movie, but it featured Helen Mirren in classy vixen mode with machineguns, and I don't know why you say no to a movie with that combination.

It doesn't have that much to do with the comic, which is pretty thin.  3-issues of pure action, if I recall.  Not much character development.  But the movie expands on all this, inventing a whole cast, gags, etc... really not losing anything, but building a full 1.5 hours of movie on a skeleton frame.

The movie stars Bruce Willis as a retired CIA assassin who is targeted by the CIA and has to retaliate.  His HR rep (Mary Louise Parker) gets involved, and he goes about recruiting his old network to help him figure out what's going on/ get some help/ keep folks like him from getting whacked.

The film is a chance for actors to get together and play action hero - something The Expendables turned into a franchise overnight, only to burn through that fuel a bit too fast.  The difference here being - aside from Willis - I really don't think of Freeman,  Malkovich or Mirren as action stars in any era.  But that's part of the gag as the movie trots out assassins that look more like average people than, say, Dolph Lundgren.

But it also follows the pattern of the older, more experienced folks having to show these kids running things now how things are done.  And, you know, there's a place for movies that pull that trick, and I don't mind.  Especially as I realize I'm now well past the 18-35 year old demographic.

The movie doesn't have much new to offer plotwise or tricks wise, and it's mostly relying on the charm of the actors they've assembled.  Which, you know, when you've got these folks, Brian Cox as a former foe, Richard Dreyfus in a key but small role and Ernest Borgnine showing up in a walk-on, mission accomplished.

Really, it feels weird that I didn't watch this with The Admiral.  Maybe one day.


Fantomenos said...

Let em say that I totally agree with your assessment of Ellis. When he's good he's good, but when he leans into "I'm as smart as Alan Moore" mode it can be painful. BUT:

If you haven't checked out his current work on James Bond, I recommend it highly. It's a stylish, relevant update of the Connery era, with some near sic-fi ideas, but nothing too self-indulgent. He just started his 2nd arc, so I imagine the collection of the first arc will be available soon...

The League said...

Yeah, I saw the collection and almost picked it up, but it was a wee pricy for something I'd heard nothing about. I've been on a Bond kick, sorta, so this may be timely