Film4: Monday 23 November, 9.00pm
Bored to distraction in suburban Cleveland, retired black-ops agent Bruce Willis contacts his former CIA associates – God-like Morgan Freeman, Con Air merchant John Malkovich and Dame Helen Mirren – to flush out well-connected contract killers. In the manner of most other comic-book adaptations, the fast and furious Surrogates-style action swiftly escalates to frankly unfeasible. All part of the Expendables/A-Team fun, the makers would assert.
But that’s not exciting, it’s dumb. At times, mildly amusing: “You can’t just go round duct-taping everyone,” says Mary-Louise Parker, abducted for her own safety by Willis. Mind you, decent delivery is the least you’d expect from a cast of this calibre. It’s certainly better than Wanted, Freeman’s previous comic-book excursion.
But it never approaches the level of Malkovich’s CIA farce, Burn After Reading. Smugly symptomatic of 21st century Hollywood product, Red is both far too much and nowhere near enough. The acronymous title – ‘retired and extremely dangerous’ – is explained by CIA records keeper Ernest Borgnine, the loveable Marty Oscar winner who was still acting in his 90s. He contributed to five more films before his death in 2012, age 95.