It seems that putting spies out to pasture is one thing. But ridding them of their lust for action is another. While most of the retired agents in Red attempt to adapt to civilian life, it is often an unsuccessful struggle. Still Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) tries. He’s even fallen in love with a mousy cubicle worker in the agency’s payroll department. And each month when his paycheck from the U.S. Government arrives in his mailbox, he calls into the office with a complaint as an excuse to talk to Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker).
But his transition to a normal existence is interrupted when he discovers someone has put a price on his head. Not knowing who or why, he recognizes that Sarah’s life may be in danger as well because of their frequent phone calls. Though he’s never met her face-to-face, he slips into her apartment, kidnaps her and then takes her on a wild road trip where they meet up with three of his former cohorts, Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren).
Although these seasoned agents might be on the pension plan, they haven’t lost any of their skills when it comes to killing. With a host of young CIA and FBI agents on their trail, these aging undercover operatives pull out all their tricks to avoid being shot while they track down the person who issued their death sentences. And though Frank and his friends suffer some bloody injuries during their shoot-outs, they are far more capable of hitting their targets than are the newer recruits at the agency. Most of those guys aren’t so lucky and, as a result, the body count in this film is huge. Unfortunately, this violence often has a flippant feel to it, especially when these highly trained assassins make jokes about the impact of their bloody careers.
Based on the comic book Red, this film adaptation (which takes several liberties with the original story) may be disappointing to fans of the series. As well, the average age of this all-star cast makes it unlikely that most teens or even young adults will be rushing out to catch this movie. Yet older audiences (those who can stomach the violence and often unbelievable stunts pulled off by these more mature characters) might appreciate this action adventure. At least they’ll see veteran actors having a great time playing characters who demand the respect their years of service deserve.