Review: Red DVD

Red DVD box
Summit | DIRECTOR: Robert Schwentke | CAST: Bruce Willis, Mary-Lousie Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren
RELEASE DATE: 1/25/2011 | PRICE: DVD $28.99, Blu-ray $34.99
BONUSES: deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary, trivia track
SPECS: PG-13 | 111 min. | Action comedy | 2.40:1 aspect ratio | Dolby Digital 5.1 audio | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

One of my favorite movies from last year, Red has it all: great cast, comedy, action, smarts, heart and, did I mention great cast? Here’s the lineup: Bruce Willis (Armageddon), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Morgan Freeman (Seven) and John Malkovich (Secretariat) as retired CIA agents (Retired and Extremely Dangerous — RED) and Mary-Louise Parker (TV’s Weeds) as Willis’ object of desire and well-intentioned kidnapping. All perform their roles brilliantly, especially Malkovich, whose out-there character (he lives in a bunker under a car) is so much fun to watch.

Red movie sceneIn smaller but equally memorable roles are Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws) as an evil rich guy, Ernest Borgnine (The Dirty Dozen) as the CIA records keeper and Julian McMahon (TV’s Nip/Tuck) as the whiny vice president.

In the movie, Willis, Mirren, Freeman and Malkovich must come out of retirement when someone tries to kill them. Packing lots of heat — and whatever other weapons they can get their hands on — they must unravel the mystery to stay safe.

The action is fast, the script is smart and the laughs plentiful. But it’s the actors and characters that make this film so enjoyable. Mirren as a Martha Stewart-esque lady pulling a huge gun out from behind her vase is priceless.

All the actors look like they’re having a grand ole time in the movie. It’s like what The Expandables should have been, taking itself much less seriously.

Rated PG-13, Red, which is based on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, was ignored by the Oscars, but who needs one? The film grossed $90 million in theaters and should be embraced wholely on DVD and Blu-ray.

Both include the same special features, some better than others. The hearty batch of deleted and extended scenes don’t offer much more to the story. On the featurettes side, many of the “Access RED — Cast Insights” are the usual “He/She is a genius” variety (Note to Hollywood: We get it, you’re all geniuses and love working together. We don’t need to hear that anymore), which is surprising because the movie is so much fun. But there are some entertaining moments, like when Freeman blows a raspberry as a description for director Robert Schwentke and Mirren likened him to “a very naughty Santa elf.”

The “CIA Exposed” featurettes reveal the nasty little secrets the agency has kept over the years, such as the MK-Ultra mind control experiments, assassination plots and law-breaking activities. The CIA is also discussed in the commentary by retired CIA field officer Robert Baer, who says he retired after a failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein and, when he arrived home, the FBI tried to arrest him for attempted murder. “When your employer’s trying to put you in jail, it’s time to move on,” he says. He follows the film with an eye toward how realistic it is about the life of retired CIA agents, and he says it mostly passes muster.

The final special feature is an interesting trivia track that can be played throughout the movie. Don’t expect behind-the-scenes tidbits. Here you’ll learn about famous retired CIA agents, the cost of the various damage caused in the film and the price of the most expensive purse in the world ($1.9 million), among others.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.