Retired and Extremely Dangerous

A friend was kind enough to give me a copy of “Red”, the new Bruce Willis film. I was excited to learn that RED means ‘retired and extremely dangerous’. As a retiree not so long in the future myself, having this on one’s dossier might be quite a buzz, I think. Willis is getting good at spoof and this one is the spoof spy movie par excellence. Willis is retired CIA Frank Moses with a black ops record that not even half the Agency can read because it’s so secret. In retirement, his principal source of daily entertainment is a lingering, distant, unconsummated, internet relationship with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), an office girl in the Pensions Department of spectacular ordinariness whom he’s never met. As Frank’s former government employers begin to demonstrate determinedly murderous intent, Sarah becomes a wide-eyed, unwitting accomplice in Frank’s attempts to escape their gunsights. So, Frank junkets around the country, gathering intelligence, with postcards telling us where he is and his pursuers waste a shockingly profligate amount of ordnance trying to finish him off . Willis collects Morgan Freeman, the elder retiree “we’re getting the band together again” together with a paranoid John Malkovich who talks to a furry pink pig containing advanced weaponry because the CIA fed him LSD for fifteen years, thus making him a little bit strange, and Victoria, a spectacularly girly Helen Mirren formerly of MI6 who used to kill people for a living but now prefers cookery and flower arranging with the odd contract to keep her hand in. All of them used to be the CIA’s top agents, but the secrets they know have made them the Agency’s prime targets. Framed for assassination, they use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their pursuers and stay alive, keeping the hapless and permanently bewildered Mary Louise Parker alive as well. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history. Fur-hatted Russians are involved, the US Vice-president is using the CIA as his personal hit squad and there’s some memorable one-liners “if you break his heart, I’ll kill you and bury your body in the woods”. There’s a sense of almost apologetic self-consciousness. The cast is so very seasoned and they can pull this sort of thing off so very, very easily. They’re all too clever by three-quarters. And they know it. Eight out of ten. At least.

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