Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ten Statements About....RED (2010)

Much of what is right in this film--and the world--
is encapsulated by this one photo.....
1) This is yet another film that contributes to the Year Of The Caper Flick, with a group of colorful types banding together to pull off a job/clear their name/redeem get the idea. And I suspect the reason it's being dumped in The Fall Graveyard is because Summit Entertainment's executives knew it would suffer from comparison to some of the caper films we've experience this summer.

2) I have not read the story the film was based on--although the collection just came in via my DCBS Shipment--but even though the film seems proud of its comic pedigree (the logo and the poster is consciously designed to mimic the cover of the miniseries), it seems to be leeched of everything that makes Warren Ellis such a distinctive comic book writer.

3) Like Live Free or Die Hard, Bruce Willis plays a character who's one step away from a super-hero. Unlike Live Free or Die Hard the moments that shore up his super-hero-ness, like the shot of him calmly stepping out of a car spinning out of control, works.

4) The reason Mary-Louise Parker is so integral to the film is not only that she's incredibly beautiful but very credibly middle-aged, but because she has this sort of endearing gawkiness that allows her to become the POV character and give us a grounding presence to all the silliness. Her enjoyment and excitement as she gets deeper invested in the caper is genuine and effective. She also shares perhaps the single funniest scene, an exchange with Helen Mirren.

"Laugh, or I'll blow your ass up!"
5) The way John Malkovich's Marvin is written to be the 'wacky comedy relief' character is painfully over-the-top and winge-worthy. The way Malkovich makes the character not only palatable, but likable is a credit to his abilities as an actor.

6) Every action movie could benefit from Helen Mirren shooting people. I cannot imagine original choice Meryl Streep playing wetworks expert Victoria anywhere nearly as perfectly as she does.

Bruce Willis: schoolin' you young'uns since 1985...
7) Karl Urban, playing the kinda-sorta-bad-guy-who-really-isn't-that-bad, is super cool. And his fight scene with Willis is one of the highlights of the movie. If only the central exchange from said fight wasn't featured as the punchline of the trailer, it would have more impact.

8) The actual bad guy is so wipsy, and the resolution of the problem, is anticlimatic. I wonder if the film would have been improved if Richard Dreyfuss' arms dealer Alexander Dunning was the real villain. Lord knows he proclaims himself the 'bad guy' enough...but his brief scene blows the actual villain out of the water.

9) I really like Christophe Beck's score, which starts off soft and jazzy and grows in freneticness the further along we get in the story. And even the few song choices work--my favorite being when Parker's Sarah wakes up from being drugged to Jackson Browne's "Doctor, My Eyes"--which serves to comment on both her and Willis' Frank's condition at the time.

10) I like Brian Cox. I like Morgan Freeman. I like Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren and Karl Urban and Julian MacMahon. Why do these actors together not generate enough heat to keep my eyes glued to the screen?

In short...a film that really should be better judging from all the disparate parts, a movie that pales in comparison to all the other Caper Films we've been treated to in 2010.

It was back to the Atlas for me, which means a forced viewing of The Regal Firstlook (although even I thought the Daft Punk video tied in Tron Legacy was entertaining)....and another fistful of trailers, the worst being Drive Angry, a Nicholas Cage horror film that comes off as a parody of Ghost Rider and looks so epically awful I have to wonder if it started out as a joke gone horribly wrong, and presentations yet again of both The Green Hornet and Due Date--which is made even more dreadful by the way the trailer hews so closely to The Script. At least I also got to see the trailer for Faster again, which doesn't hew close to the script, and seems to promise the return of Dwayne Johnson to action-y goodness.

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