RED Gets my Green

The situation in my household is probably like many others, at least with regard to one thing: money. There’s not a lot of it left over after rent, miscellaneous bills, gas, food, etc.

Unfortunately, the lack of money means I don’t frequent the movie theater. I love it, truly, but it’s just so darn expensive. Thankfully I have been going more often the last two years or so. In the theater recently-ish I’ve seen Watchmen, Zombieland, Avatar, Shutter Island, Inception, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. All good stuff. Really, if I’m going full disclosure then I’ve also seen the latest Resident Evil, but let’s just move right along…

The point is my Pop came to visit a few weeks ago, and being the very loving and generous man that he is, he took me to the movies (Yay!!!). What did we see? You guessed it: RED.

What does RED stand for?

Retired Extremely Dangerous.

They’re so not kidding.


First, oh, three minutes of the film

I knew nothing, NOTHING, about this movie when my Pop selected it, but I kid you not, the opening shot of this film had me thinking “this could be pretty good.” The music, the framing, the set design, the character’s face all flow to create a mood that I can see and feel easily.

The next shot shows more character movement and more set design/props, and now I’m thinking “I’m gonna like this.”

The third shot shows just a little bit more – stairs, he’s walking down them, interior decoration the same, music lighthearted…and there it is! Without a word of dialog I know everything I need to know at this point: this man is alone, he’s pleasant, he’s straightforward, he’s kinda boxed in and bored, and it’s going to be funny because the music and his movements say so.

And that’s when my film-trained brain shut off and I sat back to enjoy the ride, because right then I’m thinking “I’m gonna love this!” And I totally did.


With only one exception (Wilkes), I was sold on every character in this film. Not in a serious, this-is-reality-on-screen kind of way, but they were all convincing within the story world. Marvin (John Malkovich) is a joy to watch with his cute pink stuffed pig and paranoia.

Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) is how I imagine any lonely, quirky, chill dreamer who wants some major excitement would be – well okay, not really, but it works for me. Besides, it plays really well with Frank (Bruce Willis), who is as quiet and loveable as he is useful with a vacuum or a gun (or just bullets and a frying pan, or a grenade, or fisticuffs, or…).

Helen Mirren is stately and refined and she kills people, Dear, and Morgan Freeman does just like Morgan Freeman does, and…

I could go on. But I won’t. Better to see the film.


What I mean by transitions are the movements of the main characters from place to place. The film lets me know where they are because it plasters a huge fake postcard on screen with the location’s name on it (New York, New Orleans, New Hampshire…just kidding, not New Hampshire). Besides letting me know where the characters are in a fun way, this is also great because it clearly signals that the flick is not taking itself too seriously. It always takes some guts to break suspension of disbelief like that in a film when you really need to be involved with the characters. To do so usually means either brilliance or idiocy. This one’s brilliance.


A lot of the music included in this film is very apparent. You hear it come on, you hear it the whole time it plays, and you hear it turn off. Under most circumstances, it drives me nuts when a film’s musical soundtrack draws attention to itself like that. I much prefer it to be a bit more subtle – to more clearly support and enhance what’s on screen, rather than seeming to compete with it. In RED, however, I thought it appropriate. Not only does it maintain the attitude of not taking the film too seriously, but in a lot of cases the song selections are amusingly fitting.

My favorite here is the inclusion of the Meters’ “Cissy Strut.” Its appropriately placed for what’s going on in the film in general, but where it really makes me love it is when the music stops, and Victoria (Mirren) gives her pseudonym as “Mrs. Brown.” This is awesome because the first time I ever heard “Cissy Strut” was when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film entitled – what else? – Jackie Brown. Was this a nod to Tarantino and/or miss Jackie? Couldn’t say, but nonetheless, this little bit was just fun.


In most of the movies I’ve seen where you’ve got some seriously bad@$$ government agents, the dialog tends toward the serious, heavy, dramatic. Not always or even often the case in RED; the dialog is very light and amusing and, well, young. There’s a sort of stereotype that more ‘mature’ adults are a bit serious, stuffy, and dry, but RED exploits that stereotype with great humor by making its characters the opposite. In a lot of ways they remind of teenagers or young adults, which is fun to see in a group of highly skilled and dangerous retirees.

Family Dynamic

This team of retired elite agents has a strong family-type bond. The film demonstrates very well why it is that none of them has an actual family, but it also shows that in place of it they formed their own sort of family unit instead. It’s both a little funny and sweet that they all have Frank’s back in his quest for romance, considering that they’re in the midst of trying to save their lives. This family unit may be a bit unorthodox and dysfunctional, but it’s sincere and trusting, and probably as close as any of these characters dared to get to another person.

This film is a hands-down LOVE IT

There are four members in my immediate family, plus my husband makes five. We are all of different tastes, so finding a film that we all enjoy is nigh-impossible. But RED did it.

As mentioned, I don’t really go to the theater all that often, because of the cost. But for RED, I went once with my Pop, once with my husband, and once with my sister. My Pop even saw it a second time when he took my Mom to see it. It’s almost unheard of that my Mom would go to the theater, and it’s even harder to believe that she would enjoy the experience, but enjoy it she did.

For those that like numbers, that’s a total of eight tickets purchased among five people to see this movie at the movies. That comes out to $80+, total enjoyment every time, no regrets.

RED got my GREEN, and it was worth every penny and every minute.

I know the timing on this post totally sucks because RED isn’t showing anymore. Currently the projected DVD release in the US is 01/25/2011. Two months. Worth the wait.

RED was skillfully directed by Robert Schwentke.


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