When older actors or actresses are cast in action roles, we usually stumble upon one of two mistakes. First, they go the LETHAL WEAPON 4 route and have the characters complain about how old they are and how they can’t do it anymore. This gets annoying and tends to make the movie more about their age than what they’re doing. The other pitfall is when the film doesn’t even acknowledge the age of the actors and pretends as if it’s perfectly normal for a 55 year-old man to be running, jumping and shooting people like he’s 25 years-old. This, of course, removes some believability from the film and induces plenty of eye rolls and sighs. With a cast of nothing but aging stars, I was pleasantly surprised to see RED avoid both pitfalls and handle the age of its cast appropriately.
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired CIA operative that has spent the last 30 years doing black-ops missions and killing people for his country. Now that he finds himself too old to do his old job, he’s struggling adjusting to “normal” life. He takes solace in weekly phone calls to Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a benefits coordinator whom he’s taken a liking to. But he’s thrown back into his old ways when a team of assassins tries to kill him for being involved with a mission back in the 80’s. This leads Frank to kidnap Sarah (to protect her) and to get the old gang of CIA operatives back together to put an end to the manhunt.
Karl Urban is William Cooper, the bad-guy assassin the CIA assigns to take out Frank and Urban steals the show. That’s saying a lot given he’s surrounded by such a talented and A-list caliber cast, but he does a great job as the man-on-a-mission Cooper. He and Frank have a good rapport, which culminates in a showdown in Cooper’s office, which proved to be the highlight of the film. John Malkovich also does a fantastic job, providing just enough comedy in his quirky, paranoid portrayal of Marvin Briggs. All of the cast members did well, but Urban and Malkovich shined in the roles they were given.
RED also succeeded in keeping a fast pace. At times the twists in the plot and the unraveling of the conspiracy took away from the action, but director Robert Schwentke did a fine job of moving from one action sequence to another. I thought they tried too hard to set up scenes, especially when they kept saying they were going to get shot going to the Eagle’s Nest (where they found Helen Mirren), only to be able to walk in and strike up a conversation without a single bullet flying. Why even mention that in the first place?
But those are small complaints for what turned out to be an overall fun film. RED isn’t a film that’s going to make anyone’s best movies of the year list, but it is one that provides enough humor and action to keep an audience entertained.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: RED is another catalog title from Lionsgate that gets the Dolby Vision treatment, which is a nice surprise. Lionsgate catalog titles are a mixed bag, but between this and THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, things are looking up. RED is a bright, well lit movie, which is perfect for the new format, giving an increase in detail in virtually every scene. The actors’ faces, their clothing and even their weapons show considerably more detail and color depth, making for a very nice 4K release.
Audio: The Blu-ray has a nice DTS track, but the 4K has an even better Dolby Atmos track that’s a nice compliment to the upgraded video presentation.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Audio Commentary: This was a little different as this commentary was done by Retired CIA Field Officer Robert Baer who was actually a consultant on the film. It’s very obvious that he’s not as seasoned as other actors and directors who are used to doing these sorts of things, but he’s interesting to listen to and gives a different kind of insight that you don’t normally get to see in these types of special features.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:45): Nine scenes that served no extra purpose for the film but were somewhat enjoyable to watch.
Access: Red: This is a picture-in-picture featurette that lets you skip around to the scenes you want to see or watch right through the film. It’s chock full of film trivia as well as other random factoids that are interesting and fun to catch. You can also activate a countdown so you can see how long until the next extra pops-up.
Easter Egg (10:46): Access this special feature by selecting the Special Features tab and pushing the down arrow on your remote, this will then take you to a special effects featurette.