DVD: Red – A Revealing Error

This Bruce Willis blend of comedy and action was underrated by critics and under-loved at the box office but it’s the filmmakers’ own fault, and their mistake is revealing.

First, it’s basically a fun flick.  Based on a graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, it’s about a bunch of aging CIA killers getting back together for a final mission.  Willis and Mary-Louise Parker are as charming and funny as they can be as lovers on the run and Karl Urban is excellent in the nicely written part of a home-loving hit-man.   Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren are all their terrific selves.  The direction by Robert Schwentke (with a big assist by Gary Capo on the second unit) is noticeably expert.  It’s entertaining stuff.

Here’s the thing, though.  It’s pretty obvious that the filmmakers aren’t particularly anti-American but, try as they seem to have done in development, they can’t save themselves from a story that is – or that, at least, makes the usual tired anti-American storytelling moves.  At one point, we find ourselves watching our heroes execute an elaborate plot to assassinate the Vice President.  And dude, guess what:  we don’t want to watch our heroes assassinate the Vice President!  Even if he’s a brainless buffoon.  I know this because our Vice President is a brainless buffoon and we still don’t want to see him assassinated.  Voted out of office, yes – but we don’t need Bruce Willis and the gang for that.

The point is:  only in the cloistered world of the American arts could it not have occurred to someone that this sort of plot point had to be changed for the movie to win big at the box office.  Two or three minor plotting changes and this thing would have been a complete delight instead of a vaguely uncomfortable effort by some really first-rate talent.

So, like, Hollywood guys:  try to get out more.  The rest of us still love our country and don’t want to watch it run down by the people who benefit from its freedoms most.  As I say, I could tell they didn’t mean to do it philosophically – they just forgot to step outside the dead-headed assumptions of the business.

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  • http://twitter.com/patrioticameric Roger Cotton

    I liked this movie a lot more than I thought I would. It WAS fun and entertaining.


    And they wonder why the Box Office has tanked…

  • http://darkangelpolitics.com Angel_artiste

    RED is a great movie. We need more well-scripted and entertianing films like it. The Vice-President was a bad guy who was trying to kill the heros. Seems reasonable to try to assassinate him out of self-preservation. I don’t remember hearing any criticism of “24″ when Jack Bauer went after evil President Logan. Mountain out of a molehill, Klavan.

  • Twerp

    Um…there WAS criticism for 24 for the same reason.
    The issue was two fold here: First of all the bad guy was intrinsically American, making it clear his main villainous aspects were because of the evil country he lived in, and two that strategizing and killing someone outside of war has a name.
    Generally we’re not supposed to be in favor of murder, but Hollywood is all too clear. If you disagree with people politically the only way to get rid of them is with a bullet in the brain.
    Ironic given these were the same people complaining about violent political nonsense leading the recent shootings all over the news.
    So not mountain molehill.
    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  • Anonymous

    They’re making a sequel. I will go see anything with John Malkovich in it (yes, even Jonah Hex). The movie is loosely based on a comic by a British leftist comics writer who likes to do outrageous stuff in his stories, so making the vice president the (alleged) bad guy in the story is part for the course. But they at least made it amusing, which is more than you can say for most films these days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Schneider/1581639894 John Schneider

    Oh, come on. The movie wasn’t anti-American, and we’ve all seen how evil some of our vice presidents (and presidents) can be. Johnson(Andrew) and Johnson (Lyndon Baines), Nixon (both POTUS and VPOTUS), Gore and Biden. It’s not like any of them were overtly as evil as Dr. Doom was in RED. It was a damn entertaining movie, and believe it or not, there is no requirement in Hollywood that every movie have a political message brought to you from the left.