RED – WHAT “THE EXPENDABLES” SHOULD HAVE BEEN

By Dr. Craig D. Reid

Finally, a great action film this year that has a delightfully honest tone of yesteryear, when films like this (i.e. Die Hard) were fun to watch, without trying to convince the audience, “Aren’t we a cool film?” RED is neither pretentious nor licentious, but is audacious and adventurous, an action-romantic comedy with one-liners that bring roars of glee and tons of he-hes. Retired but Extremely Dangerous is as apt as it is rapt, an acronym translation that spells outlandish and outrageous, where other summer action affairs are seeing red, because budgets prevented them from being in the black. 

So RED is a black eye to that other big action film that starred an A-list of larger than life aging actors that essentially shrunk like a skunk because in the eyes of critics it stunk…in other words the film was “Expendable.” 

To paraphrase Plato’s Apology, “He who is tough and knows he’s tough, really isn’t tough. Yet he who is tough and doesn’t know he is tough, is tough.” This is not an apology for RED, for it needs no explanation or defense to justify the title of ram tough elder states-people.

Nay, it is more of a defining paradigm of Sylvester Stallone’s summer pseudo-blockbuster that in reality was more of a quassi-testosterone actioner wrapped in the flummery of progesterone. It’s no wonder than Helen Mirren’s assassin-ette character from REDS was significantly stronger and more forceful that Sly’s inflated muscles that according to reports is more from injection that perfection.

And while we are at it, Bruce Willis makes Jason Statham look like a schoolboy, John Malkovich makes Dolph Lundgren as ludicrous as English muffins being an English breakfast staple, and Morgan Freeman has more acting talent in his thinning hair than the muscles of Terry Crews, Jet Li and Randy Couture.

The problem is that too many movies these days don’t let the audience choose if a film is good or not, without the Sherman tank of publicity trying to ram is gun turret down your mouth forcing you to enjoy a bright film that is inherently from the dark side.

The good news is that we can choose to watch Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) as a former black-ops CIA agent who falls in love over the phone with Sarah (Mary Louise Parker), a fair young maiden that protects his pension checks. Yet as Frank becomes a target of assassination, Sarah’s life in endangered. Moses assembles his old hit team to create his own 10 Commandments of survival, the first commandment being, “Thou Shalt Not Mess with Frank nor Sarah.”

Based on the 66 page long, cult-favorite graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, and directed by Robert Schwentke, RED is about a geriatric group of former CIA agents Frank (Willis), Joe (Freeman), Marvin (Malkovich) and Victoria (Mirren) who embark on an impossible cross-country mission to break into the top secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.  With civilian Sarah (Parker) in-tow, love is in Frank’s air yet it and the whole gang’s plans for survival could deflate at the hands of hi-tech CIA hit man William Cooper (Karl Urban) and his two-faced CIA agent female boss that is as low as the agent Orange used to deforest jungles during the Vietnam war.

REDS has its fair share of red herrings, bloody surprises and sanguine twists with a special shock as powerful as electric eels marooned in the Amazon…yes…Ernest Borgnine is still alive. 

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