RED for me sort of came out of nowhere and took me completely by surprise. I liked the concept from the trailer: RED, Retired, Extremely Dangerous. I think what sold it for me from the trailer alone was seeing Helen Mirren behind a machine gun. It was great in the trailer and even better in the film.
I love the film from start to finish; it is a classic action thriller, with the dash of comedy. Bruce Willis brings the experience of being an action hero to the screen (and the scene of him exiting a spinning vehicle to fire at Karl Urban still give me goosebumps), while Morgan Freeman brings a grounding into reality, John Malkovich brings paranoia, and Helen Mirren is just elegant and kick ass.
However, I especially love Mary Louise Parker, who isn’t RED, but just an average normal woman who gets caught up in the conspiracy and having the time of her life. Her chemistry with Willis’ character is pitch perfect, and while most people wouldn’t relate to the situation they find themselves in, but their desire to protect each other is very believable.
I can remember when I first watched it that I had thought the actions sequences, some of the direction and the transition styles were very comic-booky, with good reason apparently as I later learnt. RED is a comic book movie, and more than that it is a DC movie, which I will admit shocked me a little bit. If I was forced to choose between DC and Marvel, then I am a Marvel girl, very much because of the X-Men, but in part also because the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love DC, but I do find it a bit grim and a lot more serious than Marvel, which is why I was very surprised with RED because while it certainly is serious in places, it really doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I think that light touch approach is what makes the film so brilliant. None of the RED characters need to try; Willis, Freeman, Malkovich and Mirren have approached their characters portrayal with an air of effortlessness and practicality. They don’t put in more than they need to in order to complete the tasks at hand and the confidence they imbue just pours off the screen. Despite being retired, they are extremely dangerous because they have no doubt in their abilities.
When compared to Karl Urban’s character you can see the generational differences; Urban’s character is very much of the ‘try to have it all’ generation with a wife and kids that makes him vulnerable. The rest sacrificed all of that, which is why Willis’ character is now trying to find that now in retirement. It does however pay off for Urban, because I think that grounding in reality is what makes him as practical as Willis’ character and helps him to make the judgement of who to trust in the end, because normal people are trusting and generally decent.
I absolutely adore the film; it is easily one of my favourites from DC, and I strongly recommended it because you get laughs, actions and three dimensional characters in a seamless and effortless thriller.