2010’s Red is ostensibly a ‘by-the-numbers’ action flick. Bruce Willis barely needs to get out of second gear in his performance as lead character Frank Moses – he’s perfectly fine in the role but Moses is the sort of sardonic wise-cracking action hero that Willis could play in his sleep. The main antagonist for much of the movie is played by Karl Urban, and like Willis, he’s perfectly fine, but rarely seems challenged by the role.
So far so ordinary then. In terms of plot Red doesn’t really deliver too much either. It’s all pretty standard stuff when it bothers to make sense but there are many moments when the cohesiveness of the storytelling lets the movie down.
In spite of this, however, there is a lot to love about Red. This is predominantly down to a supporting cast made up of John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox and Morgan Freeman, all of whom appear to be having enormous fun playing a group of veteran spies who have come out of retirement for one last mission. Mirren, in particular, is excellent but it’s Malkovich who really steals the show as the paranoid and unhinged Marvin.
Score for Christmasishness
Red seems to oscillate between it obviously being Christmas time and there being literally no indication of the time of year whatsoever. In an early scene we see Willis’ character decorate his house for the festivities, only for the elaborate decorations to be systematically dismantled by machine gun fire. Christmas decorations are then sporadically seen throughout the movie and a plethora of festive lights near the denouement of the film suggests it has been Christmas throughout the running time. Overall the movie is massively inconsistent in its Christmasishness, but it is definitely more than Christmas(ish) enough to meet the requirements of this advent calendar.