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Now this is how spies were -- noble,swashbuckling and flamboyant gentlemen.

Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi |
November 26, 2010 7:11:34 pm

Director: Robert Schwentke

Cast: Bruce Willis,Morgan Freeman,John Malkovich,Helen Mirren,Brian Cox,Mary Louise-Parker

Rating: ***

Movie Review: Red Now this is how spies were — noble,swashbuckling and flamboyant gentlemen and ladies — before it all became just a maze of satellites,software and identical grey suits. Old school they may be but old hat they certainly aren’t.

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It helps that the Red — CIA speak,in this film,for their “Retired and Extremely Dangerous” agents — are played by a collection of actors who know how to enjoy themselves and let you in on the joke. Who else but Willis to walk out of a spinning car and shoot straight? Who else but Malkovich to think up loony conspiracy theories and use a pink piggy to hide a heavyweight gun? Who else but Freeman as the ex-spy living as jauntily in an old age home as in an African dictator’s costume? And who else but Mirren to set pulses racing with the tilt of her greying bobbed hair,even before she reveals the gun under her perfect floral arrangement?

Frank (Willis),Marvin (Malkovich) and Joe (Freeman) are all ex-CIA,while Victoria (Mirren) worked for MI6 and Ivan (Cox) was KGB. While Ivan is the odd one out,they respect each other as worthy adversaries. Ivan and Victoria also have a past,and their romance smells of some interesting times.

Mary-Louise Parker (playing Sarah) is the only non-CIA person here. Frank likes her but has only ever talked to her on the phone at the pension office (another amusing touch),where he calls up for his cheques. She gets sucked into the plot when Frank is attacked by a secret CIA hit team while on his way to meet her.

A dirty Guatemala cover-up turns out to be behind the assassination bid on Frank,and so far it has taken 11 lives,including a New York Times reporter trying to write about it. Frank goes about solving it by roping in his ex-buddies,completely bowling over a fascinated Sarah in the process.

Guatemala apart,Red doesn’t really stretch itself to break new comic-action grounds. And even that is just a word,filling in for any small country,familiar but not so familiar that you start worrying about it. Working with a screenplay inspired from a graphic novel series,Schwentke keeps the film fast-moving,his cheery actors (even the current CIA types) fleet-footed and the audience,importantly,happily keeping pace.

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First published on: 26-11-2010 at 07:11:34 pm

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