By MICHAEL WALTERS
With “The Expendables” and now “Red,” 2010 has turned into the year of geriatrics kicking ass. Only this time its Bruce Willis teaming up with Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Miren as retired government agents blowing stuff up real good while uncovering a government conspiracy to have them all put on permanent vacations.
Based on a cult comic book, “Red” has a better cast, with Mary Louise Parker, Richard Dreyfus, and even Ernest Borgnine along for the ride. But it boasts a weaker story than “The Expendables,” and that’s really saying something considering we’re comparing it to the literary stylings of one Sylvester Stallone. What that film lacked in plausibility, it somewhat made up for in sheer dumb meathead energy. The script for “Red” is about as old and tired as some its stars and sorely needs a shot of adreniline. The film tries to lighten the mood with lots of grandpa jokes, but it moves at the pace of a septuagenarian shuffling with a walker. It’s never a good sign when you start to notice how craggy Bruce Willis is looking these days, and the movie doesn’t move fast enough to give you anything else to think about.
Morgan Freeman is watchable in just about anything, but he’s given almost nothing to do. John Malkovich plays an LSD affected oddball, but the character is never as fun or as odd as it should have been. Richard Dreyfus is appropriately whiny and oily, but has little screen time. Only the sight of grand Dame Helen Miren blazing away with a machine gun packs even a hint of the kind of delight the filmmakers were shooting for. With so many Oscar winners and Oscar nominees involved it’s shocking how little they have to show for it.
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