Call me Generation Next, Generation Now, or even a Millennial. And, yes, I will answer to each call. Because I am a 27 year old woman. (If anyone asks I’m 24, by the way). I like my movies fast, loud and in-my- face in 3D.
How unfortunate it is for me and the people of my generation that we are being upstaged by the Baby Boomers. It’s a little disheartening to know that the latest action movie to hit theaters is so much better than recent action films that have been geared toward my generation.
First, there was The Expendables, with their over the hill action stars. Now comes Red, with its one-foot-in-the-grave action stars. On behalf of the Millennials, I implore Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Bruce Willis to stop making us look bad.
Sure, we’ve got a nice mix of up-and-coming Millennials, like Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen– although, I’ll wait for Green Hornet to come out before I count Seth Rogen an action star. But, these old folks really know their way around guns and their smart action heroes.
Red is about a government conspiracy to kill off certain former CIA agents who have been labeled R.E.D. (Retired and Extremely Dangerous). Now it’s up to Victoria (played by Mirren), Joe (Freeman), Frank (Willis), Ivan (Cox) and Marvin (Malkovich) to figure out what’s going on and to stop it.
The plot, written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber and adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, is not overly complicated. There’s a little bit of intrigue, a little romance, lots of winks and a good sense of humor.
I like that Red has this soul of its own, as if it’s loosened its tie and is telling jokes to a crowd of people with a two-drink minimum. In other words, without all of the action, Red is still quite entertaining with a few LOL moments. (That’s “laughing out loud” for you Baby Boomers trying to keep up.)
Even though the film can stand on its own without all of the stunts, it helps to have the stunts in the film to enhance the overall story. Director Robert Schwentke, with lots of help from the stunt and effects teams, manages to wow his audience without going overboard in excess. We audience members don’t need the death-defying stunts. We just need to be wowed a bit and then get back to the plot, which Schwentke pulls off with polish.
Speaking of polish, costume designer Susan Lyall deserves kudos for her in-the-moment show pieces. Each outfit seems to mesh with the scenery and the scenes. Lyall really gets what it takes to create a character through his or her clothing.
I just have one bone to pick with Red: Why is Joe, the only African-American cast member, played by Freeman, the only one of the good guys, the one to die — twice? Why couldn’t Crazy Marvin be the one to kick the bucket?
But, I digress.
Willis, who has been one of my most favorite action stars since I was a little girl, reminds me why he’s a favorite also of many audience members. He’s a down-to-earth type of man who is easily relatable. He’s such a great guy and I am applauding his resurgence into action; just don’t break a hip, Bruce.
Freeman shines as the old guy with a few more tricks up his sleeve. Sadly, it feels like the audience only got to see half his tricks.
Malkovich is quite convincing as the Looney Tune Marvin. But his craziness has a rhyme and reason- to comical effect.
I would also like to mention that I am really, really starting to like Mirren in her later years. She’s never been afraid to go for the parts that require some physicality. Just look what she did with her character in the British version of Prime Suspect. Mirren successfully toes the lines of hot assassin, loving mother and vulnerable woman with the greatest of ease in transition. She can even teach Angelina Jolie a thing or two.
Red is the type of film that speaks to the target demographic, men and women, ages 18-49. It speaks to all generations and should be applauded for its gumption to show us Millennials how to make a good action film.
Now, I may get some flack from my fellow Generation Now-ers but I implore you to watch Red, first, then judge me. In the meantime, I’m taking notes.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com.