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DVD review: 'Red'

Gene Triplett Published: January 28, 2011
One of the most indelible images from all the movies of 2010 is that of Helen Mirren, wearing a Martha Stewart hairdo and an elegant floor-length white evening gown, cutting loose with a heavy-barreled .50-caliber Browning M2HB machine gun without batting an eyelash. She must have undergone some boot camp-level firing range training to pull that off, because it’s next to impossible not to blink when discharging such a weapon, even for seasoned firearms enthusiasts.

But that’s why she’s just as convincing as a former MI6 assassin in “Red” as she was as Elizabeth II in “The Queen.” And she’s just part of what makes this action-comedy from director Robert Schwentke so much fun. Bruce Willis is in top form as the smirky, wisecracking hero Frank Moses, a former black ops agent whose retirement is interrupted by a CIA hit squad that’s out for his blood. Frank is forced to pull his old team back into action, including Victoria (Mirren), who’s now running an upscale bed-and-breakfast; mad Marvin (a hilariously wild-eyed John Malkovich), who lives in an underground lair camouflaged by a junk car; and Joe (Morgan Freeman), who’s just turned 80 and is dying of stage 4 liver cancer in a nursing home.

They’re an unlikely wrecking crew, but the new breed of CIA youngsters is no match for these wily vets when the bullets start to fly and many explosions begin to blow the lid off the biggest conspiracy in U.S. government history.

Unfortunately, the DVD extras are in no way as spectacular as the film’s nonstop thrills and laughs. Pop-up trivia balloons offer useless information about the number of shades of red that exist (285) and the penalty for kidnapping in Louisiana, deleted scenes are boring (which is why they were deleted) and so forth. But this DC Comics graphic novel-based thriller is the best of its genre in recent memory, and worth owning or at least renting.

— Gene Triplett

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

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