Many people who know me are aware of my Helen Mirren issues – from DCI Tennison to The Queen (George III’s and the present one), Mirren has done a remarkable job of appearing in some excellent dramas but, to my mind, as herself. This has meant that to a large extent I’ve watched the series and films but I’ve not necessarily enjoyed Helen Mirren in them. And then there was National Treasure 2. It’s also difficult to forget the time that Mirren blocked my view of Jake Gyllenhaal on the BAFTA red carpet in London back in 2007. But these things fade from memory, after a time.
However, today I saw a film in which the role of Helen Mirren fitted perfectly. RED is an unusually charismatic and hugely enjoyable film because it features a whole group of very well-known and… mature actors who appear as themselves, doing what they do best: working their onscreen magic as movie stars and action heroes. Admittedly, Helen Mirren continued to cause me some consternation but not as much as normal. Possibly because she looked like she was having a good time. As did they all.
RED tells the story of Retired and Extremely Dangerous Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), an ex CIA-Agent ‘who brought down governments’ and now has everyone after him, trying to kill him and the lovely pensions office girl Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), with whom Frank has discovered a connection – that may or may not involve avocados. Moses enlists fellow ex-agents Morgan Freeman, John Malkovitch (and a pig) and Helen Mirren. Along the way, while travelling the length, breadth and height of the US, they encounter Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine. Meanwhile, Moses and Sarah are pursued by Cooper. Cooper is played by Karl Urban – known to many as Bones from the last Star Trek movie and soon to be known as Dredd.
And this, for me, was the beguiling charm and wonder of RED. On the one hand you have screen legends such as Bruce Willis doing what they do so well (Willis is perfect in this movie as he must be because he plays himself) but on the other hand these familiar names and faces have a good run for their money, thanks to the extremely likeable and intelligent and charismatic acting of Urban and Parker. Not only that, Karl Urban is uber hot!
RED looks good and feels good and acts cool. It’s like an adventure travelogue through the United States, signposted with cheeky postcards. The storyline is fast and exciting. The script is sharp and funny. The action is loud and brutal but with the ferocity of an animated feature. It has the glamour of Bond but the characters are likeable and the film takes itself a whole lot less seriously.
And, as I say, I even enjoyed Helen Mirren in it. So can’t be bad. This is one of the films I’ve enjoyed the most this year – a great mix of intelligence, humour, action and glamour. With great acting to boot. I would love RED 2 – REDDER perhaps.