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Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010 12:20 am

Red shoots at familiar targets

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You know how frustrating it is when you go to the movies, psyched to see a film, only to realize they’ve already shown you all of the good parts in the trailer? That’s the kind of experience you get with Red, an adaptation of the DC Comics series about a group of former assassins forced out of retirement. Bad enough that the publicity department at Warner Brothers tipped the film’s hand, but its script is replete with so many familiar situations and character types it’s likely to instill a sense of déjà vu in the audience.

Former hit man Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is having a hard time filling the hours living in the suburbs. The only thing he looks forward to is flirting on the phone with Sarah Ross (Mary Louise-Parker), a woman he’s never met face-to-face, who’s in charge of getting his retirement checks to him. However, things take a turn when he’s paid a visit by a group of assassins who all wind up very dead. On the run, Moses heads to Kansas City to grab Sarah, because now she’s a target, and then tracks down those in his old unit: Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren).

The film moves at a nice pace during its first half but then it flatlines horribly once the crew is back together. The veteran cast does its best to give the script some umph, but the tone as struck by director Robert Schwentke is all wrong here. Striving for irreverence, the film comes off as labored and predictable. Meanwhile its mixture of humor and violence is reminiscent of many of the worst Roger Moore Bond films in which the dark humor was oh so obvious and insulting. In the end, Red ends up shooting nothing but blanks at targets that are far too familiar.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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