Are you seeing RED? Cheap puns aside, seriously, have you seen it? This last Thursday the wife and I continued our odd coincidence of going out to see movies on arguably date appropriate holidays by shelling out for RED on Veteran’s Day. Before that it was watching Machete on what turned out to be Mexican Independence Day. We don’t plan these things, they just happen… I mean, except for the fact that this year both happened on a Thursday, which is when we can get into the AMC for relatively cheap.
RED has been doing a modest business so far, it seems. It’s opening box office was underwhelming, particularly for a movie with lots of explosions and gunfire in it, but the drop off in subsequent weeks has not been as steep as most of those movies with lots of explosions and gunfire in them. As of this writing Rotten Tomatoes has the total at 74.1 million dollars, versus a budget of 54 million, and while the 4:55pm showing we caught was not what you’d term “packed”, there were actually a fair amount of people present. That’s after the movie having been out for almost a month. What does that mean? Fuck if I know, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, yours truly and his better half included, so I’m glad it made some money.
Now back when the ads were running, there was a portion of The Satellite Show sold on RED as soon as they saw Helen Mirren firing a machinegun.
While this might have been worth the price of admission just for the ‘WTF’ factor alone, I am pleased to report that not only is there a good chunk of Helen Mirren kicking ass with high caliber weaponry as advertised, it’s even better because it’s not played for cheap laughs. RED, in my own damn opinion, is one of those rare films that successfully straddles the line between the dramatic and the absurd—probably in large part due to the stellar cast, but I’ll give the direction credit as well. It’s a smartly put together film, with great dialogue and memorable action sequences, and doesn’t lag during its almost two hour runtime. I don’t know precisely how much of the screenplay was pulled from the Warren Ellis scribed comics of the same name, but who cares? It stands on its own as a wildly entertaining, thoughtful, and even at times very romantic flick. My wife and I are great fans of twisted romance in fiction, so when one of the characters declared, “She shot me three times in the chest. When I woke up alive… that’s when I knew she still loved me,” we cuddled closer and sighed dreamily. Our hallmark moments need to have bullets attached.
The chemistry between everyone in the cast is another part of what makes RED work so well. These are all skilled actors, fully invested in their roles, and no one’s phoning it in. That’s right, I said it: Bruce Willis is not phoning in his performance. I don’t know how things actually were on set when the cameras weren’t rolling, but I get the sense everyone was enjoying being a part of the production, and that sort of enthusiasm can’t help but carry through to an audience.
But in the midst of all the wonderful Willis-ness and Freeman-ness and Mirrenity and Urbanity and Malkovichitude and big ol’ Cox, I need to give a special shout out to Mary-Louise Parker in the oft throwaway role of the “everygirl” sidekick. To an extent, she’s channeling her Weeds persona, but it’s still an absolutely charming and, dare I say, believable performance. She has a rare ability to act as a grounding influence even in the most absurd situations, while also being a very, very funny comic actress… if I had to peg the phenomenon I might put her up there with Spider-Man as presented in Twisted Toyfare Theater. Not a perfect comparison, but believe me, from my standpoint that’s high praise indeed. The straight (wo)man somehow still manages to have many of the funniest reactions and lines.
RED is a movie that wants to be an action flick, a buddy comedy, a romance, and a suspense film all at once, and you know what? It works. It achieves that balance between taking itself seriously enough to be compelling, and taking the piss enough to leave you smiling throughout.
Plus, Helen Mirren with a machinegun. More than one. Including a BIG one.
Go give it a look.
Oh, and as far as the second part of my blog title? Before RED started I saw another Green Hobo trailer. I mean Green Hornet. Jesus Christ. I probably should be the last man in the world insisting another man shave, but, Seth? You really needed to shave.