Red - The Movie

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: Toronto-spotting is a hobby of mine.

The Long Version: I'm not someone who goes to the movies very often, but when Penny tells me that she's scored a pair of comp passes to an advance screening, I'm not about to stay home. So tonight I found myself sitting in a packed theatre waiting for the start of a movie I'd never heard of, featuring a whole cast of stars that I had only intermittent knowledge of, without any real expectations.

Red - the movie - turned out to be a huge success. It's fairly smart, well put together, and entertaining. In its structure and style, it's almost more of a 'caper' movie than an action/adventure thriller. Being based on graphic novels gives it a certain super-hero aspect to some of the characters, but it's more of a postmodern too-cool Tarantino style than Superman, if you know what I mean. Some of the camerawork and choreography brought gasps from the audience; the price of admission is worth it just to see the most awesome exit from a police car ever conceived.

While this is an exceedingly violent movie, it's not heavy on the gore. People tend to disappear in bloodless explosions or get nocked down - there's no sense that we're in the middle of a first-person shooter video game or a slasher movie. And even places where it does get quite graphic, such as a direct grenade hit in the container yard, it tends to be as much of a visual shock as a horror show. Red doesn't seem to revel in human suffering as much as The Expendables did. In fact, I generally found that particular Badass Grandpa movie much less satisfying than this one, and Red never felt like a vanity project. If you're tying to decide between the two, unless you're a huge Stallone fan, pick Red instead.

I think this is the first time I've gone to an action movie and come away thoroughly impressed with the acting. Sure, Morgan Freeman's a given, but John Malkovich stole every scene he was in. And then there was Bruce Willis - who knew?

Even while I was watching the movie I was making plans to buy the DVD. Red will be great on a decent TV with a good sound system, but it really is worth seeing with an audience. This could become the first movie I'll watch in the theatres more than once since - I'm embarrassed to say this - Pump Up The Volume. For those who can't think back to 1990, that's the movie where Christian Slater plays a disaffected and maladjusted youth. In my defence, it had some redeeming moments (nsfw), and I was sixteen years old. But I digress – Red is one of the best movies I've seen in a very long time, and not to be missed if this genre is something you think you'd like.


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