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Time Out New York Project: Issue #785, October 14-20, 2010
Dir. Robert Schwentke. 2010. PG-13. 111mins. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovkich.
It’s the casting, stupid! That seems to be the maxim followed by the producers of this very silly, yet frequently enjoyable, graphic-novel adaptation about long-in-the-tooth spies reteaming to solve a conspiratorial assassination plot. Leading the charge is Frank Moses (Willis). a Retired and Extremely Dangerous government agent who goes on the lam after an early-morning assault of his suburban home. Why was he attacked? Per his semilecherous, eightysomething sidekick (Freeman), he has to “get the band back together” in order to find out.
And what a crew he collects! There’s twitchy weapons expert John Malkovich, unfailingly courteous sniper Helen Mirren, romantic Russian informant Brian Cox, and even an unwitting tagalong in the hilariously flighty form of Mary-Louise Parker. Something interesting has to happen with this once-in-a-lifetime troupe and, between all the pro forma espionage theatrics, it often does. There’s fun to be had watching Willis and Parker banter, and listening to Malkovich toss off arrhythmically timed one-liners. But Red really only takes off whenever Cox and Mirren’s world-weary former sweethearts are onscreen. (They’re madly in love even though she once put three bullets in his chest.) Watching them together, you understand how two people can be so deeply enamored — and still want to kill each other. Literally.—Keith Uhlich
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