Red, based on the eponymous cult D.C. Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner and adapted for the screen by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, has an interesting story and some good dialogues. But the film falls weak in the screenplay department. The story of a vice president wanting to murder a former super spy to cover up his shady past might seem plausible enough, but this is not brought out well in the film at all. Most of the screen time is spent on establishing the characters and on Bruce’s journey across the US. Enjoyable as all this might be, it gives the audience a short shrift. Evidently, the comic book adaptation has been less than perfect. The film’s plot is weak and the audience can predict what’s going to happen next. Having said that, it needs to be added that the screenplay has been woven in such a manner that there is never a dull moment. High-octane action sequences and humorous quips are dime a dozen. A few stand out. Sample this conversation, which takes place between Frank (Bruce Willis) and Marvin (John Malkovich) when the former traces down the latter to a remote riverside hut, somewhere in midland America.
Marvin: Why are you trying to kill me?
Frank: Look, why would I be trying to kill you?
Marvin: Because last time we met, I tried to kill you.
Frank: That was a long time ago.
Marvin: Some people hold on to things like that.
Fans of action flicks will love Red because it has numerous mindless shooting sprees. All the characters, including Bruce Willis’, are more than happy to pull the trigger at the slightest provocation. As far as the performances are concerned, Willis is his usual macho self. Mary-Louise Parker acts ably as Sarah. Her transition from being a scared city girl to becoming a brave companion to Frank in the latter half of the film is nice. Helen Mirren and Brian Cox‘s flirting is cute. Morgan Freeman does well in a significant cameo. John Malkovich will bring a smile to the viewer’s face as the madcap spy who suspects everything electronic and modern. Karl Urban and Richard Dreyfuss are good. Veteran Hollywood actor Ernest Borgnine is a surprise package as the CIA’s record keeper.
Direction, Music & Editing
Director Robert Schwentke has made a fairly interesting film. But he should have paid a little more attention to the screenplay rather than concentrating so much on his characters’ ‘cool’ quotient.
The film is technically sound. Music by Christophe Beck is good. Cinematography by Florian Ballhaus is effective. Editing, by Thom Noble, is abrupt at times, but is okay overall. The visual effects, by CIS Vancouver, are excellent.
The Last Word
On the whole, Red is an okay watch. You won’t remember the film after you have left the theatres. Word of mouth may work in favour of the film but its appeal will be restricted to a select audience.