Your take on this may depend on how you feel about The Russell Brand Thing. Me, I am in favor. I think he’s funny. I don’t know why the world needed a remake of “Arthur,” but if you’re going to tell the exact same story as an older movie, I guess you have two options: nakedly rip it off without credit (“Disturbia”) or just suck it up and get the rights to remake it (this one). At least this way is honest. Anyway, Helen Mirren! And she punches Russell Brand in the face, so that should be enough even if you aren’t a fan of his. (Also, this is the second film Helen Mirren has made with Russell Brand, following “The Tempest.” That is a little bit baffling, isn’t it?)
There exists some concern about “Red,” this weekend’s action-comedy about retired CIA agents, due to the subject matter. Well, because the characters in this story are all old. The actors playing them are, therefore, old. It runs in direct opposition to the Hollywood maxim stating that young people, who spend the most money on movie tickets, are the only audience you should seek.
Yet this movie is shaping up to be a solid early fall hit, thanks in large part to this very cast and subject matter. It’s almost like a parallel “Expendables,” only instead of washed up action stars who can’t emote, you get Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis, Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine (!) and spring chickens Karl Urban and Mary-Louise Parker.
I guess this is the new model of cinema, what you can almost call the Yankees/Heat/Celtics/”Expendables” blueprint. Take as many big name talents as you can get, throw them all together and hope your sheer combined skills/marketability/whatever overwhelm the competition.
Yet “Red” actually looks…not bad! Bruce Willis is still doing his “I just woke up and I’m only doing one take, so you’d all better hit your marks” shtick. Helen Mirren uses a huge machine gun. John Malkovich runs around crazily. Morgan Freeman takes a break at one point to record some voiceover work. Richard Dreyfuss will laugh, at some point, and a little bit of the viewing audience’s innocence will die. And it’ll be a not-altogether-wretched way to spend 90 minutes.
I guess what I’m saying is this: They can’t all be “Saw 3-D” and “Twilight” and superheroes. At some point, some talented actors are going to wind up together on set, if only because there are a limited number of combinations in which movie stars can work. This might not be — okay, definitely, definitively will NOT be — a great film or a great story. (The director made “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” okay? That says it all.) But it’s got a lot of engaging people and they aren’t spring chickens and so it’s nice to see this once in a while.
If you ever read “The Tempest” and thought, “Boy, I would see a weird-looking version of that made into a film by Julie Taymor, starring Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Chris Cooper, Alfred Molina, David Strathairn and Djimon Hounsou,” you are absolutely in luck. Here’s a trailer for the film, which casts Miren in the lead role.
Do you have any hippie friends who were around during Woodstock and all they ever talk about is how great LSD was, and how you just don’t understand? Imagine one of them ate a copy of “The Tempest” and described the digestive process to you, and the result would be no more comprehensible than this trailer. Seriously, it’s something.