Red [Blu-Ray] Robert Schwentke

Red [Blu-Ray] Robert Schwentke
Sometimes, all you're really looking for is a good time. Red is more than that, but not much, although it could easily have been. Based on a concise, sinister graphic novella written by the comic world's most screen-ready goldmine, Warren Ellis, and illustrated by Cully Hamner, Robert Schwentke's adaptation plays pretty fast and loose with the source material, especially in tone. Instead of a lone wolf tale of revenge, the filmic Red is a playful mix of rom-com and ensemble action comedy. Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired black ops CIA agent, on the surface assimilated into the lifestyle of a common suburbanite. For kicks, he tears up his pension cheques for an excuse to flirt with his sexy-voiced handler, Sarah, played by the charming Mary-Louise Parker. A hit squad descends upon Frank's house, expending a literal hail of bullets after a quiet infiltration is swiftly quelled by Frank's physical lethality. This opening sequence establishes a high-impact, exaggerated physics style of slightly cartoonish action that allows the violence to be extreme without resorting to gore. To figure out why the CIA wants him dead, Frank reassembles his old gang – Joe (Morgan Freeman), MK-Ultra casualty Marvin (John Malkovich) and the assassination-addict Victoria (Helen Mirren) – and follows a lead involving a missing New York Times reporter and a military/political cover up. The entire cast has a great time, with solid supporting work from Karl Urban, Ernest Borgnine and Brian Cox, and it's infectious, if you're on board for this brand of silly fun. An extended piece of foolishness for the ending is the only deleted scene of much interest – extra family time footage of Urban's CIA agent would've just bogged down the film's already puffy run time. "Access: Red" is the latest version of "Maximum Movie Mode." A small menu in the bottom corner allows you to toggle on and off the various types of information and features that will pop up while you watch the movie. "Did You Know?" is a Pop-Up Video-style, tenuously linked factoid generator; it references Groundhog Day, because Frank wakes up, and Singaporean eyesight stats, because Victoria is wearing glasses in a scene. "Damage Control" calculates set destruction costs; "Retired Hall of Fame" dishes info on notable CIA retirees; "CIA Exposed" reveals odd blunders, like a failed 15-million-dollar experiment to outfit cats with tail antennas for intel-gathering; "Cast Insights" is exactly what you'd expect from talking celebrity heads; and "Expert Intel" features highlights from retired CIA field operative Robert Baer's commentary track. There's a helpful "next" button to skip directly to the extras, but I'd still rather have a master list to pick through at will. Baer's full commentary track is the Blu-Ray's secret weapon. If you've ever been curious about behind-the-scenes info on the CIA, you'll barely believe this guy can be telling the truth and still be alive. It's compelling stuff and he's quite astute in some of his examinations of the cinematic process as well, but it's his unique viewpoint and experience that'll keep you listening. If you want a good time, Red will deliver, and if you're after a bit more substance, well, there's some hidden in there too. Hopefully the success of this film will open Hollywood's wallets and minds to the plethora of immensely more substantial works available for conversion from the mind of Warren Ellis. (eOne)