Oct 7, 2016

Red: Retired Operatives are Lethal and Heterosexist

I just saw Red (2010), a wisecracking caper movie about a bald, crotchety retired CIA agent  Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), probably so named to reflect the saying "older than Moses," although Bruce Willis was only in his fifties.

He teams up with other crotchety retired operatives, nursing-home bound cancer patient Joe (Morgan Freeman), brain-fried conspiracy nut Marvin (John Malkovich), elegant assassin Victoria (Helen Mirren), and blustering retired Russian spy Ivan (Brian Cox), plus Sarah, the call-center girl he's been perving on (Mary-Louise Parker) to find out why the CIA is trying to kill them all.

Hint: it has something to do with a village in Guatemala that was "liquidated" in 1980, and a cover-up that goes all the way up to...well, that would be telling.

By the way, RED stands for "Retired, But Extremely Dangerous."

I haven't seen such a vigorous and unnecessary defense of old people  since The Golden Girls.

There's a lot of galavanting around the country, but every set is so bright and shiny that you can't really tell where they are.  The witty banter is so nonstop, and the agents are so super-competent tat I had trouble believing they were ever in danger.  Fifty CIA agents descend on Frank's house, and he calmly escapes and walks away.  He easily breaks into the super-secure CIA headquarters, accosts William Cooper, the CIA agent in charge of his case, and vigorously beats him up, even though Cooper is half his age and armed.

 An assassin shoots at Marvin, and he returns fire so skillfully that the bullets meet halfway and explode.

Victoria is shot, yet still manages to elude the bad guys and make wise-cracks.

I know it was supposed to be a comedy, but in the end, it was so darn implausible that I kept saying "No way!"  The actors seem to be having a lot more fun than I was.

And why was it set at Christmastime, when no one mentioned Christmas?  The ornaments and Christmas trees everywhere were distracting.

Beefcake: None.  Although several very hot actors appeared in minor roles, like Alec Rayme (top photo) as a cop, or Greg Bryk as a firefighter, nobody took their shirts off.

Gay Content: None.  Frank and Marvin joke that William Cooper has "cute hair," and that's it.

Heterosexism: Nonstop.  The clash between work and heterosexual romance is a constant theme.  Frank has never dated anyone before because work was so pressing.  Victoria once dated Ivan, but the CIA disapproved and order her to assassinate him (as a compromise, she put three bullets in his chest).  They get back together.  Cooper is a "family man," a wife and kids that are "everything."  Frank and Sarah spend the last scene smooching.

Homophobia:  Yep.  In the first scene, Sarah notes that she's gone so long without a date, her landlady thinks she's gay.  Ok, last I heard, lesbians go on dates.

Frank says "I try not to judge," that is, "I try not to look down on gay people for their deficiency."

Hey, Frank, last I heard, being gay wasn't a deficiency.  I almost turned off the movie on the spot.