OAPs With Guns
A hugely enjoyable action
comedy caper that manages to rise above cliché by relying on old-timers rather
on a mission was very in last year. You had the muscles in the form of The Expendables, the brains in the
shape of Nolan’s Inception, the
mercenaries of The Losers and the
nostalgia in the shape of The A-Team.
However, it was the old age pensioners in the shape of RED who managed to raise
the biggest smile of them all. Where it
bests The A-Team and The Losers is in striking a perfect balance between
mindless action and genuinely affectionate characters ensuring that, while it
might be forgettable, it is never anything less than fun.
Moses (Willis) is a retired
black-ops soldier living the dull life in American suburbia. The only enjoyment
he gets is by tearing up his retirement cheques so as to talk to Sarah Ross (Parker) and the pension department. But
when lethal assassins come to execute Frank one night he realises that being
Retired Extremely Dangerous, hence RED, means he and his friends are in
trouble. Taking Sarah along for the ride Frank sets out to recruit all his pals
from back in the day, including Marvin Boggs (Malkovich), Victoria (Mirren)
and Joe (Freeman) to help him
unravel why he is marked for death. The problem is that a ruthless agent (Urban) is hot on their heels.
is a guilty pleasure to be had in watching some of the cream of aging actors
don their guns and kick some ass. RED delivers this in spades and as such will
have you smiling throughout. The dynamic
among the gang equates to a dysfunctional family. Mirren plays the
matriarch all protective over Moses, Willis is the golden child who can do no
wrong while Malkovich plays the petulant younger sibling. What this means is a wealth of comedic opportunities for the group to
riff on and, unlike the characters, it never grows old.
Robert Schwentke, who has never
really excelled with films like Flight
Plan (2005) and The Time Traveller’s
Wife (2009), finds a wonderful balance between high-octane action and
slapstick comedy. The set-pieces are
always fluid with crisp action but he never loses sight of the comedy to be had.
Watching Moses use a grenade launcher as a bat to swat away an oncoming grenade
may seem over the top but it only lends to the comic book violence on offer.
Needless to say RED is adapted from a comic and it wears this on its sleeve
without any pretence of trying to be something thought provoking.
What makes RED all the more
entertaining is the cast are clearly enjoying themselves. Willis is always a welcome
screen presence and never really breaks from his quiet glib ways of recent
years, but why would you want him to? You know what you get with him and it
continues to draw a smile. Freeman is obviously relishing a breakaway from his normal
gruff ways and here is rarely seen without a smile painted across his face.
Mirren is always a delight on screen and witnessing the once Queen fire a
machinegun, the size of which Schwarzenegger and Stallone would be proud of,
makes for essential viewing. But it is
John Malkovich who steels the show. As the ever paranoid and grumpy Boggs there
is never a frame with him in that is not laugh out loud funny. His
affection for a toy pig is a particular highlight and one that gives all new
meaning to the term “I’m getting the pig”.
If you want a fun
action-packed adventure movie then RED is one of the years finest. It is silly and often over
the top but with a cast on laugh out loud form you cannot help but be
entertained by it. It is hardly surprising that a sequel has already been
green-lit. Who says kids have all the