Gang of Four

By Ross, Deborah | The Spectator, October 23, 2010 | Go to article overview

Gang of Four


Ross, Deborah, The Spectator


Red 12A, Nationwide

Red is not a very good film and neither does it try to be. It puts in very little effort and, instead, relies almost entirely on the pulling power of its all-star line up: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox and a cameo from Ernest Borgnine, who is now 93.

(I put that in because I know you'll ask yourself, 'Bloody hell, how old is he now?' Well, he's 93. ) It's billed as an 'explosive action comedy' but the 'explosive action' and 'comedy' are so workaday even Helen Mirren brandishing a machine gun while wearing a sexy white evening dress can't save it from its own sheer dullness. You'd think it could, but it can't. This is a film in which the sum doesn't add up to its stars - although all is not lost. As a study of the progress of male pattern baldness it's fairly interesting, and goes rather like this: Going (Malkovich), Going (Dreyfuss), Gone (Willis).

Willis plays Willis, of course, although in this instance he is meant to be Frank Moses, a one-time CIA assassin who has retired to the suburbs and is a lonely bachelor. His only relationship is with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), the young woman who works in the call centre where his pension cheques are handled. They speak only on the phone, and he has never met her, but he is smitten from afar. He phones repeatedly, although how he gets through to her every time is never explained. In my experience, the person at the call centre you spoke to yesterday doesn't even exist today, but there you have it. Anyway, Frank's quiet life doesn't last long. Indeed, before you can say, 'But Sharon does exist. I spoke to her yesterday and she promised I'd be reconnected by this morning . . . ' his house is full of armed commandos trying to kill him. Frank, it turns out, is an acronym. Frank is 'RED' (Retired and Extremely Dangerous). He goes on the run, abducting Sarah along the way, not because it would simply be good to have some hot totty in tow. Did you think that? Seriously?

You can't see it's because his phone records put her in danger too? That if his last call had been to the washing-machine repair man, he'd have taken him too? …

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