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Film Studies 101
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Bruce Wilis
Helen Mirren
John Malkovich
Morgan Freeman
Karl Urban
Mary-Louise Parker
Brian Cox
Richard Dreyfuss.
Robert Schwentke.
Erich Hoeber
Jon Hoeber.
Running Time
111 minutes

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Where black ops meet hip ops...

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Bored, lonely retiree Frank Moses (Willis) is wanting some excitement, but a squad of assassins dropping in is not what he had in mind. Something in Frank's past with the CIA has made him a target, so it's time to get the band back together, all of them designated 'Retired: Extremely Dangerous'.

Well, you have to laugh. Which, since RED is a comic thriller, adapted from Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner’s darker graphic novel, is fortunate. Over 20 years since Die Hard, Bruce Willis is still playing that guy — sardonic, wisecracking, good at killing (though he does so without exposing as much of his torso) — and it works a treat. This time Willis is ex-CIA agent Frank Moses, who in retirement mystifyingly lives in Ohio suburbia pretending he was just an analyst and finding excuses to ring single civil servant Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who deals with his pension, so he can flirt a bit long-distance. That he also reads romance novels is perhaps a humorous touch too much.

But commando types confuse his house with a Taliban hideout, forcing him to hit the road and gather a unit of black ops alum. It’s a scenic trip — Joe (Morgan Freeman) is in a New Orleans retirement home and wacko Marvin (John Malkovich) is in the Florida Everglades. En route Frank abducts Sarah, who finds it all a turn-on, and picks up Victoria (Helen Mirren), an ex-assassin running a B&B. Age hasn’t drained their survival skills, nor their skullduggery. The film glosses over their horrible pasts, dwelling instead on fellowship and the value of seasoned older people with experience. Isn’t that nice? Without spoiling anything, it will come as no surprise that working out why they are on a hit list reveals a conspiracy that leads to — where else? — the top, or at least to the rich and powerful with things to hide.

We also meet a former Russian foe (Brian Cox), a sneering Urban charged with eliminating the wrinklies and Julian McMahon as a weaselly Presidential hopeful. Richard Dreyfuss and old Ernie Borgnine are also wheeled on, in case the combined age of the principals wasn’t close enough to 1,000.

Fans of the comics will find this lighter, if a likable lark with action and revenge. Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife) keeps it on the rails despite the source material being slim on plot. That shows in not-very-surprising developments that rely on cast appreciation over startling invention.

Good fun, and though it breathes hard in the second half, the ensemble has charisma to spare.

Reviewed by Angie Errigo

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Red
Empire Star Rating

Fun But Creaky

Red knows how to use the comedic situation of elderly action-packers but, unfortunately, it ends up becoming as bad as the taste of a tablet in your mouth. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Winningthefail at 13:00, 04 June 2013 | Report This Post

Red Is Dead

I borrowed this movie from my brother because I read the graphic novel, I enjoyed it, I hated this. I'm not sure why but I was loathingly bored by it. Though there was some good action scenes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Insane Batman Fan at 20:17, 29 December 2012 | Report This Post

Red Review

It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:50, 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

Red Review

It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:50, 04 March 2012 | Report This Post

Dull but not so bad to be offensive. It should be fun but its just not. Would have benefitted from 30 minutes of fat being trimmed. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blindlemonpie at 04:11, 03 April 2011 | Report This Post

Red: Marmite.

This film split the audience in two, half just sat there like plums and the other half were laughing at everything. I thought this film was very cheesy for an action film, especially one with such a big cast. I loved the idea of Helen Mirren shooting people and Morgan Freeman looked hilarious in that blue suit. Overall I thought it was a very simple film but very clever at the same time. Defiantly not a sequel but unfortunately I can see one. My kind of film. :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LUCASLITTLEWOOD at 10:34, 02 December 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

Thought this was fun apart from the annoying romance sub-plot that was totally unnecessary, i couldn't believe Bruce would let himself be seen having a romance with a woman so clearly younger than . . . but then i found out Parker is 46, however I still feel it dragged the film down ... More

Posted by musht at 22:56, 18 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

With regards to being based on the comic (COMIC SPOILERS ahead: I think the term loosely based would be the best thing to say. Essentially in the comic he the Willis character is a killing machine who just wants to stop and be left at peace. When attacked he flips back to the role of unrepentant killer who will kill everyone who gets in his way. The only partly human moment after this point is where he decides not to kill the character whom in the film was played by Mary Louise Parker leavi... More

Posted by sanchia at 18:07, 13 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

One of the most unsophisticated films I've ever seen. The gags are ITV funny, plot points extremely contrived and the cast are utterly wasted on the very very average script. This is filmmaking by the rails and I could see the mechanics far too easily. For example, entering the third act Helen Mirren asks her on screen friends what they are supposed to do about X, Y, Z, blatantly outlining the dangers they are in, and what is at stake. Robert McGee would be proud. We all know movie science... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 08:24, 13 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

It is ok. Highly predictable with Bruce Willis on autopilot and a plot whereby the plot twists are visible from quite a distance but it is ok. I think the best thing about it is Karl Urban. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 17:48, 10 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

My first impression when I saw the trailers was "nah." But the more I hear about it, the more it seems to grow on me. ... More

Posted by Fignman at 13:52, 10 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

This was a fairly decent action-comedy. While it may be Willis on auto-pilot his performance is largely enjoyable and I particularly enjoy his opening scenes as he is trying to be "normal". Also Helen Mirren and Brian Cox were ace while although I am sure many would disagree, I rather, liked John Malkovich (even if it kind of played like a caricature of Malkovich). It is not going to blow anyones mind but it is fun and worthy of a solid 3 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SteveO85 at 22:56, 09 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

Though not quite the balls out action film we may have led to expect, Red is a reasonably entertaining caper with a fine cast having fun.  Unfortunately, they are somewhat stranded by a by-the-numbers script which just plods along and does't really have any originality. Bruce Willis once again does that 'good-guy-having-a-bad-day' routine that he's so good at, and John Malkovich is sometimes helarious as a survivor of thirteen years of LSD experimenation, but there's not enough interaction... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 20:51, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

Pleasant enough popcorn action flick. Nothing to write home about but John Malkovich was the best thing in this by a country mile, suicide bomber indeed! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Your Funny Uncle at 11:20, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

Solid 3/5 action movie with the right amount of comedy thrown in. It wasn't brilliant by any means, but just to see Bruce Willis has still got it (oh yeah) and Helen Mirren toting a gun? Good choice for a movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 10:43, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post

Good. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 08:59, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


I don't know this film found me in a good mood.  It was fun and brief with solid action.  I agree with jcthefirst,  Urban was a class act.  He will make a great Judge Dredd.  7.1/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by simonmckergan1 at 22:21, 02 November 2010 | Report This Post


Dull. As. Fuck. Another phoned in Willis performance, the usual 'wacky' guy from Mackovich, all the humour misses the mark and the action is boring (save for Willis' casual walk out of the spinning car) Only good thing about it was Urban. And Mary Louise Parker's boobs. ... More

Posted by jcthefirst at 21:57, 02 November 2010 | Report This Post

tp://]REDn Die Hard 4.0 John McClane got of his retirement to save America again. Afterwards he went back to enjoying his well deserved rest. Now, three years later, he has to leave that rest behind for the second time because he`s on a hit list and has to run for the killers. That is probably the best way to describe RED and that is the feeling that you get while watching it: it`s a Die Hard gone soft, with an all star cast but without real humour (although there a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:07, 31 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

Really enjoyed some moments in it, but it wasn't very sure of itself - the comedy at times was misplaced and allowed for absolutely no emotional attachment - even to Morgan Freeman when his character died.  I was more upset his costume went with him!  Is it just me, or is Helen Mirren really unlikable in film?  Urban was good though - makes you think there is a real star waiting to be given a decent role and script. I think empire nailed it with 3/5. ... More

Posted by Letattz at 13:58, 31 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Red

Yes, it's one dimensional. Yes, it's derivative. But, what's wrong with some good, clean fun every so often? It looked like everyone was having an awesome time, and to be honest I'll watch Mary Louise Parker in just about anything. BRUCE WILLIS ISN'T OLD ENOUGH TO BE RETIRED. I don't care. ... More

Posted by mgreene at 21:29, 30 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Wasted Premise

L: UTB BUY SOME SHOES y for you I recognised the username or I'd have banned yo arse for spamming! ... More

Posted by Hobbitonlass at 10:26, 28 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Expendables

Enjoyable but there just isn't enough laughs or plot to sustain the running time this thing has, it's overlong (or underwritten...) by a good 30 minutes I'd say. Trim the fat and you'd have a really decent comic caper, as it stands it's a bit of chore in places. When it works though it's great, with the action sequences fun and the cast bouncing off each other fantastically. 2.5/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulyboy at 10:22, 28 October 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Expendables

The film was ok. Very average. It had good set-pieces and decent laughs. All in all not a bad film, but forgettable nonetheless.   I thought it could have done with more of the darkness of the graphic novel.   2.8/5 ... More

Posted by Mr Terrific at 23:15, 27 October 2010 | Report This Post


Not really the Expendables was a load of crap. It was too action and not enough story and the special effects when that guy was on fire at the end made me cringe for the director. It was awful and was hyped up so much, however Terry Crews with that shotgun was pretty darn cool. But to reitterate the rest was utter donkey balls and trying to be to macho ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zayd Awan at 22:04, 26 October 2010 | Report This Post

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