Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of the Decade: Action Movies

It's the end of the year, so naturally you would expect some kind of a special post to commemorate the end of yet another decade. Truth is, I had a couple of things lined up, problem is I can't seem to muster up my creative muscles for quite some time now. But I seem to have got myself together for tonight, so here goes.

Despite being open to any genre of films, I can't deny that any good action movies can rile up that nine year old in me who saw Terminator II: Judgment Day [1991] for the first time. Therefore it seems only appropriate that I list down what I think are some of the best action movies of the decade and if you haven't seen them, you very well should.
Easily the best action movie of all time...
Now, before I proceed, a little bit of back story on what I consider to be an action movie. Action films had come a long way since it's golden era during the 80's. Back then, you can tell if it's an action movie if the lead role is played by someone in his early 30's with average looks and a good physique. The plot is always flimsy but it makes up for it by incorporating fight scenes, car chases and lots of explosions. The audience may have matured since then, but my definition of action movies remain unchanged. Keep this in mind if you start to wonder why I included movies like Taken [2008] and not the likes of The Dark Knight [2008].

Without further ado, here is my list of the best action movies since 2000 until 2010.

2000
Shanghai Noon
Buddy cop movies had long been a sure-fire hit among casual movie-goers, it proved to be a hit with movies like Bad Boys II [2003] and Jackie Chan's long overdue big Hollywood break, Rush Hour [1998]. But Shanghai Noon was a complete delight due to its unique take on the buddy cop formula.
Like Kung Fu the TV series, this film brought martial arts into the Wild West, with an added bonus; Jackie Chan's trademark action and humour. To put it less delicately, it's a pure win!


2001
Rush Hour 2
One might argue that the sequel did not quite surpass its predecessor, but all the same Rush Hour 2 is the best action movie that the year 2001 had to offer. Not to discredit the film, but you can tell that they did this one for the paycheck.
All the same you can't say the movie was not entertaining at all for it does have its fair share of laughs and action. Simply put, it has all the things you would like to have in a buddy cop movie, but nothing less and nothing more.


2002
The Transporter
At the time this was released, nobody could have foreseen the kind of success that would later come in the form of two sequels. They should have had faith, however. The movie was written by Luc Besson, no stranger in making some of the most thrilling action movies you may or may not have seen.
The movie catapulted Jason Statham to stardom as one of the new age action heroes. The movie took some of the most basic action movie formula, but used it very well for its benefit.


2003
Ong Bak
If have to use only one word to describe this movie; Groundbreaking. Kiss of the Dragon [2001] was notable for its lack of wire fu in favour of traditional stunt work. So the concept wasn't exactly original and not to mention Hollywood has been doing it for ages.
However, Ong Bak took it all to a whole new level with action sequences that feels fresh and left audience in complete awe upon leaving the theatre.


2004
Banlieue 13
Through no fault of its own, Banlieue 13 (or District B13) drew many comparisons with 2003's hit Ong Bak for its absence of wire work, relying instead on traditional stunt work and exceptional physical prowess. But to disregard it as simply jumping on the Ong Bak bandwagon would be a great disservice to this actually very original action flick.
The movie featured extensive parkour sequences that were all well-choreographed and fused seamlessly with the premise of the story, making it a pleasure to watch.

2005
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
I believe it's pretty obvious that this movie is everything that Gigli [2003] tried to be but failed hilariously. The movie gained much of its critical acclaim due to the hype surrounding Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but that view is not unfounded, really. The duo have very good chemistry and both are believable playing tough-as-nails characters. Predictable plot aside, you will tend to forget that due to the sheer entertaining nature of the movie.


2006
Casino Royale
You had to have seen this one coming. Normally I wouldn't categorise a James Bond movie as an action flick, but if you have seen Casino Royale, how can you not?
Starring Daniel Craig, the production team sought to reinvent the franchise, and what a great job they did. Most notable was Daniel Craig himself who transformed the James Bond character from a middle-aged man with a tendency to overcompensate, to a total badass, idolised by men and women alike.

2007
300
Can you dispute this one? I doubt that anyone can. A movie high on body count, badass choreography and fueled on pure testosterone,  300 would easily top the list of this decade's best action movies. Proof? Well, never before did an action movie garnered the kind of interest it had, with many praising its visual effects as well as the 300 studs led by Gerard Butler.
If you still dispute this decision, that is understandable because the year 2007 saw the release of some of the better action movies as of late. But ask yourself this; Did any of them become a pop culture phenomena like 300 did? Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!!

2008
Taken
Widely seen as Liam Neeson's "return" to action movies since his starring role in Darkman [1990], Taken faced some fierce competition with movies like Rambo, Quantum of Solace, Punisher: War Zone, Wanted, Transporter 3 and many others released in the same year. But the reason Taken triumphs over them all is because it featured some of the plot device rarely visited at the time, and not to mention it is a reminisce of The French Connection [1971].


2009
Surrogates
Yes, despite being a Michael Bay movie, the second installment of the Transformers movie did not win a place on this list. Personally I find Surrogates to be much more entertaining because unlike the Transformers movies, it does not spend 90% of its running time blowing things up and the other 10% transfixed on Megan Fox's boobs.
Instead we have Bruce Willis, car chases, gunfights and cyborgs. Truth to be told, they had me at Bruce Willis.


2010
The Expendables
This year also saw the release of yet another great batch of action movies. What makes The Expendables rise above them all is the fact that it is neither a spoof nor a homage. While it may indeed be a throwback to action movies during the 80's, the movie treads a very fine line between self-deprecating and taking itself seriously. I must say they did a terrific job for this, I would say is a modern day classic among action movies.

Friday, December 17, 2010

FPBM!'s Movie of the Year

Welcome to FPBM!'s Annual Award Ceremony.

Now, I'll be the first one to admit that I haven't seen every movie released in 2010, some of which are box-office hits. But I had always been picky about my choice of movies, most of the time I can sense if a movie is a waste of time. Like I always say, I simply write but you decide. So go split hairs someplace else.

And now, on with the awards!

_______________________
Movie of the Year
Inception
_______________________

This one is pretty much a no-brainer for me. Inception is easily the best movie ever screened throughout this year, and without a doubt a modern-day classic. Everything about the movie is clever, enchanting, captivating and thought-provoking.

As if an intriguing story isn't enough, Inception does not fall short in the technical aspects either. Already a great storyteller, Christopher Nolan applied all that he had learned during the production of big-budgeted and large-scale films such as The Dark Knight [2008], Batman Begins [2005] and perhaps to a lesser extent, The Prestige [2006].

The result? It made every other movies in 2010 appear mediocre.

Notable Mentions: The Expendables, How to Train Your Dragon, The Other Guys, Shutter Island, The Social Network

_______________________
Star of the Year
Leonardo DiCaprio
_______________________

Before you scream "Biased!!", allow me to give you my reasoning behind honouring him with this award. I'm just going to be truthful about this, prior to Inception, I didn't bat an eyelid to the career of this actor. I blame it all largely on James Cameron's Titanic [1997]. It's not at all his fault, really. In fact, much of it is mine; I tend to look elsewhere when Hollywood is transfixed on their flavour of the month. At the time I thought he was simply an ordinary actor who made it big due to his boyish good looks. Well, Titanic is a love story, what do you expect? It's grossly unfair to consider it as the pinnacle of his career.

The Aviator [2004] was the first one to ever hint me that there is more to this guy than just good looks. After all, Martin Scorsese (one of my favourite filmmakers) worked with him a couple of times, so I thought there must be something to DiCaprio after all. Slowly but surely, I began to backtrack his movies starting with The Departed [2006], Catch Me If You Can [2002], all the way to What's Eating Gilbert Grape [1993], and my admiration for him increased with every movie. After Inception [2010] was released, I was completely convinced.

I must say, there is hardly any movie starring him that I don't enjoy. So am I being biased? Hell no. If anything, this recognition is long overdue.

Notable Mentions: Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Arterton

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Next Three Days [2010]

Director: Paul Haggis
Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Brian Dennehy, Jason Beghe, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson (Cameo)
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Rating: General
Comment: "Not bad at all, although the movie does feel like it's three days long..."

Before I proceed with the review, note that Russell Crowe is ranked #1 on FPBM! Favourite Actors, earning the number one spot as far back as 2009 when the first (and so far the only) Spotlight segment. Therefore it would be suffice to say that even I would conclude that this movie would be forgettable had it not been for Russell Crowe being in the lead role.

It has been three years since the day when John Brennan and his family found their lives turned upside down, after a member was accused of murder; his wife, Lara. After he exhausted every means to prove her innocence, he finally realised that going according to the law does not always provide justice in the end. With that realisation, he decided to do the unthinkable. He decided to break her out of prison.

Now, I am not going to lie to you. The trailer might have given the impression that this is a fast-paced movie about a thrilling jailbreak. The truth is, it is anything but that. If anything, the movie moves at a crawl before springing into life in the final twenty minutes, give or take.

It's hard to take away point from it because of that, because I understand that the meticulous planning and dragging out certain scenes were meant to give the movie some context. Namely, to make us root for the protagonist after seeing his dedication to free his wife, and the kind of suffering he had to endure due to that. All the same, it was a bit of an overkill.

Now, the movie has no shortage of talent, with memorable performances by Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks. In fact, it wouldn't be too much to say that the movie rests a little too heavily on the two lead actors. Even though both of them are an absolute pleasure to watch, I can't say I feel the same way about the movie as a whole. Veteran actors like Brian Dennehy and Liam Neeson also made their appearances, although the script probably didn't allow them enough space to fully exercise their talents.

Despite not being a bad movie altogether, I'm afraid this is one of those movies that you will forget about as soon as you leave the cinema. It might get you all curious though; this movie is actually a remake of a French movie entitled Pour Elle [2008], I wonder if the Hollywood version did justice to it.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- A good idea to begin with
- Memorable performances
- Russell Crowe!

The Bad [-40]
- Excruciatingly slow
- Underused talents

100 - 40 = 60 points

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unstoppable [2010]

Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn, Ethan Suplee, Lew Temple
Genre: Action/Thriller
Rating: General
Comment: "Unstoppable action. Pun intended..."

A word of advice, don't be so quick on drawing comparisons between this film and the fourth collaboration between Tony Scott and Denzel Washington, The Taking of Pelham 123 [2009]. While they both involve trains and the same lead actor, that is where the similarities end. Also, you would be pleased to know that Unstoppable is based on true events and it is surprisingly accurate for a Hollywood movie.

Taking place in Pennsylvania, what begins as a routine for everyone in a fictional railroad company turns sour when a worker seriously dropped the ball by neglecting to take necessary measures to ensure the trains will run smoothly. As a result, the company now has a runaway train going at full speed. To make matters worse, some of the cargo includes hazardous material.

Let's separate the facts and fiction first, shall we? Kindly skip this paragraph if you prefer to remember the movie the way that it is. Now, the story is indeed based on real events, famously dubbed as The Crazy Eights Incident. Circumstances surrounding the runaway train are facts, and there were indeed two other train crew who went after it in an attempt to stop it. However, liberties were taken to heighten the tension and drama although in reality, there was no casualty reported.

You can always count on Denzel Washington to give any movie an air of old-school badassery. This time around he is paired with rising star Chris "New Captain Kirk" Pine, who himself walks around with a dash of rebelliousness that is a reminisce of James Dean.

Now, I know that I've said earlier that the movie is aptly named. As a whole it is indeed true, however the movie is a little bogged down with certain details that it can do without and this affects the pace. It was a clear attempt to breathe life into the characters, making us empathise with them. But there is something about the loud and screeching action juxtaposed with sentimental that didn't balance out too well.

But that is pretty much all that is lacking in the movie. Unstoppable is a taut, gripping action/thriller that will make you flinch, wince and you'll find yourself being at the edge of your seat.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Good thriller
- Quite accurate
- Chemistry between actors

The Bad [-10]
- Unconvincing character development

100 - 10 = 90 points

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Skyline [2010]

Director: Brothers Strause
Cast: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, David Zayas, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel
Genre: Science Fiction/Disaster/Thriller
Rating: Teen (horrific images)
Comment: "At this era, any sci-fi movie is a risk to make. Brothers Strause took that risk with Skyline, but failed miserably. An epic fail, if I may say so..."

The tagline says "Don't look up", but what it should really say is "Don't get your hopes up" or if you really want to be frank, "Look away". Trust me, there is no exaggeration here. Skyline attempts to be several things while keeping the sci-fi element intact, but it was just no good.

The story begins with a flashback that serves no purpose whatsoever, but anyway our protagonists found themselves in Los Angeles attending a birthday party in a high-rise condominium. But when the celebration was long over, somebody, or rather something, came to crash the party... and they are not from this world.

If that sounds promising, I'm telling you now to just forget the whole damn thing. This is exactly one of those movies where what you see is what you get, and there isn't much of that either. You can almost tell that the movie rests much too heavily on its special effects. No complaints there because they are actually kind of decent. Nothing too impressive, but an eye candy regardless.

Unfortunately it would be much too easy to overlook that particular aspect due to its other blaring flaws; Derivative plot, lousy direction and poor development of characters.

I have lost count on exactly how many disaster/thriller movies that had been released between Independence Day [1996] to this one. I know one thing, however, plenty of the rest at least attempted to bring something new to the table. Skyline didn't. In fact, thanks to its poor direction, you really couldn't understand what they're trying to sell. Seriously, what kind of story that they wanted to tell?

It's almost like somebody drew a CGI alien spaceship with blinding blue lights and fell in love with it. So much that they decided to write a story around it that involves subjects from the value of human life, to friendship, to love. The result? A disastrous disaster movie.

"Runnnn!!!!"

Of course, what comes with a disaster movie? A group of characters who can't seem to get it together, and not to mention most of them are only good at getting killed. Seriously, where do these people come from? But the one that really takes the cake this time around is the building concierge. Who could have known that a butler can suddenly become a beacon of hope for human survival.

But on a more serious note, it's true. Human characters were given most screen time, but they are so poorly developed you wouldn't be able to take them seriously. Heck, you might even root for the aliens to annihilate them all and spare us the trouble of ever having to see them again.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Special effects

The Bad [-80]
- Derivative plot
- Poor direction
- Characters are just not believable

100 - 80 = 20 points

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One [2010]

Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Ralph Fiennes (Click here for full cast members)
Genre: Fantasy/Thriller
Rating: Teen (horrific images)
Comment: "One of the few franchises that tops its predecessors every time, and Deathly Hallows might just be the best of them all..."

There will be two kinds of reception to this final installment of the global phenomenon; there will be those who relish at the fact that the movie was split into two, while there may be others who laments it. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the series, as sad as I was to read the last page of the novel three years ago, I knew I had the movies to look forward to. Now it is all really coming to an end, but let's save the accolades and tears for the second half of the finale.

Emma Watson has grown into quite a beauty, hasn't she? :P

Taking off roughly where the last movie left off, Harry, Hermione and Ron continues on their quest to seek and destroy the rest of the Horcruxes; the secret to Lord Voldemort's immortality. Their quest forces them to drop out of Hogwarts and live on the run, simultaneously avoiding the Death Eaters while looking for the Horcruxes.

Now, you might complain that since the movie was split into two, that means it will all feel kind of "watered-down". Let me assure you, that is certainly not the case. Splitting the movie into two will better serve you as this allows for a more faithful adaptation, and quite faithful it is. Yes, the movie moves at a slower pace this time around. But that is a good thing, wouldn't you say? Considering that this is the finale, you really don't want to have the entire book crammed into a singular movie because that would do the franchise a gross injustice. Try to reminisce on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [2005] to know what I mean.


What else can I say? It's a Harry Potter movie. Mind that I am not using the term derogatorily, if it's a Harry Potter movie, that means it is all about total escapism. It continues to take you to the extremely volatile world of imagination. Now, starting from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [2004], the films had progressively took on a darker tone without compromising its trademark humour. Fortunately Deathly Hallows does not disappoint in that department either.

Impressive visuals and special effects is almost a prerequisite for movies with strong fantastical elements such as this, and there's definitely no shortage on those two elements. David Yates truly did the franchise justice, as he had demonstrated again and again since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix [2007].

Can't wait for Part Two!!

Points Calculation

(Unavailable due to FPBM!'s bias-ness towards everything that has to do with the franchise)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mr. Nobody [2009]

Director: Jaco von Dormael
Cast: Jared Leto, Diane Kruger, Linh Dan Pahm, Toby Regbo, Juno Temple
Genre: Drama/Science fiction
Rating: Teen (horrific images, mild sexuality)
Comment: "An instant modern day classic. It should damn very well be..."

Modern day classics are very hard to come by, but when they do, it makes all the wait very satisfying. Mr. Nobody is a thinly-veiled story about choices and the possibilities they lead to, wrapped up gloriously as science fiction.

Nemo Nobody, the titular character is a 118-year-old, said in the movie to be the last mortal alive in the year 2092. On his deathbed, he reminisces his past to his psychiatrist and also to a reporter. But his past is literally unlike anything anyone has ever experienced - and not to mention it makes no damn sense to everyone around him.

Science fiction is something that is a bit of an acquired taste, and some are easily turned off by the very idea of it. But I assure you that this is one of those movies that transcends high above the genre and it makes for one very compelling movie about choices in life. Not to mention it can really cook up your noodle; one cannot be helped but ponder upon the age-old question about what is the meaning behind all the choices we made in life.

This was all told in a very spectacular fashion. Imagery, allusions, symbolism and metaphors made frequent appearances throughout the movie. For an example, there is one scene where a nine year old Nemo cannot seem to make up his mind on how to spend his money; there were chocolate eclairs and sponge roll cakes, and he opted not to buy either one. That tiny scene was a particularly nice touch, you can say that it is a small summary about life. You can spend life like how you can spend a coin; Spend it on whatever that you want, but you can only spend it once. The fact that he chose neither is an allusion to something else integral to the plot, but I'd rather save you from further spoilers. Have fun spotting them yourselves. There was so many of each literary devices, I guarantee not everybody can spot it all in just one seating.

The story is easy enough to understand, which is why I mentioned that this is not for the fans of the genre only. Simply imagine Sliding Doors [1998], but on a much more epic scale. We take for granted all the little choices we make everyday, without realising that they all amount to something in the long run. Every second of our life is a turning point, but regardless of it all, there is no such thing as a bad ending because they all mean something; it is up to us to figure out exactly what, that is why life is such a gift.

Living up to its heavy, intriguing theme and excellent storytelling, the film does not fall short in its cinematography and its editing either. To name an example, the director employed strong use of colours, each marking the significance of different choices made by Nemo. It all ended up to make one very surreal film, which worked wonders for a movie this deep.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Compelling plot
- Excellent storytelling
- Surrealism
- It's just so damn intriguing

The Bad [-0]
- (None)

100 - 0 = 100 points

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Disappearance of Alice Creed [2010]

Director: J. Blakeson
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Martin Compston, Eddie Marsan
Genre: Drama/Crime/Thriller
Rating: Teen (violent content, pervasive language, nudity)
Comment: "Its tight plot moves at the right pace, giving out an air of claustrophobia, an apt portrayal of a kidnapping..."

If you are a fan of claustrophobic crime thrillers like Misery [1990], Reservoir Dogs [1992] or the more recent Hard Candy [2005], you might find Alice Creed to be right up your alley. While the film is indeed notable for its small cast just like the aforementioned thrillers, Alice Creed brings something else to the table.

On the very basic, the movie is based entirely on the kidnapping of the titular character for ransom money. But what is seemingly simple turns ugly when things begin to get too personal between the three individuals involved, and the job spirals down into a tale of double-crossing, hate and deceit.

Just in case the movie poster threw you off, allow me to remind you that this is no Guy Ritchie movie. No bollocks here. The movie could have easily been a stage play due to the minimalist nature of the cinematography, limiting most of the duration inside a room to accentuate the claustrophobic nature of a kidnapping.

Gemma Arterton gave a more gripping performance this time around, almost a one-eighty degree change from her roles in movies such as Quantum of Solace [2008] or Prince of Persia [2010]. Complementing her talents are other actors who are not nearly as well-known, but gave strong performances themselves. Considering that the movie stars only the three of them, it will always be an amazing feat.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Tight and taut plot
- Strong performances

The Bad [-0]
- (None)

100 - 0 = 100 points

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Machete [2010]

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Michelle Rodriguez, Don Johnson, Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, Lindsay Lohan
Genre: Action/Exploitation/Comedy
Rating: Adult (violence, nudity, mild sexual content)
Comment: "A long overdue feature for Danny Trejo, but it's now here and it is the best exploitation movie yet..."

From the guy who brought you El Mariachi [1992], Desperado [1995], Once Upon a Time in Mexico [2003] and more recently, Planet Terror [2007], comes another exploitation film that is very much in the spirit of the other half of the Grindhouse [2007] double feature film. With that being said, expect nothing less than over-the-top violence, gratuitous nudity and heaps of fun!

The titular character is a Mexican Federale turned renegade after being double-crossed in a rescue mission. After losing his wife and daughter, Machete now roams in Texas looking for odd jobs, until he was hired by a local businessman to assassinate a senator. He found himself double-crossed yet again, and he had had enough. Armed with his machete, he finds himself caught in one hell of a mess that forces him to confront both the past and present, and he intends to put an end to it all.

For an exploitation movie, the plot is rather intricate. You have conspiracy theories, hatchet jobs, false flag operations, an underground immigrant network and a whole lot more. It all requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, of course. But that is why this movie is a total joy to watch. It deals with very serious issues in a very clever way. Some issues might be culture-specific, but still you will find it to be relevant at a global level if you're observant and critical enough.
Apparently it is a trend nowadays to put on an impressive cast of actors, and Machete does not disappoint in that department as well. It's not a bad thing, really. In fact I kind of enjoy watching legendary actors like Robert De Niro and Don Johnson not taking a role too seriously for a change. Completing the roster are B-movie legend Steven Seagal, tough-girl actress Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba & Lindsay Lohan whose beauty match their talents. If I may add, even though Mayra Leal didn't make it through the first half movie, she was such an eye candy I can't help but gawk at her perfect self.

This year alone, we are served with a number of action movies that finally does the genre justice, and Machete alone is a strong contender for 2010's best. As mentioned earlier, being an exploitation movie means you have to prepare for some over-the-top violence and action that can be more funny than traumatising. One such example is the character Machete using a goon's intestines to rappel down a bulding. But other than that, Machete features a number of action sequences that is a reminisce of great action movies of the 80's; that means it is worth every second if its 105 minute running time.

Truth to be told, I did try to look for a flaw in the movie, but I can't find any that is really blaring. If anything, Rodriguez could have worked on this movie a bit earlier instead of churning out more Spy Kids movie. Machete could possibly be the start of yet another Mexico Trilogy, this time centered around Trejo. Truth to be told, I won't complain should that actually be the case. Trejo looked great even at 66, and I don't think his age will be a problem with all the technology we have nowadays.

Long live Machete!

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Intricate plot & sub-plots
- Impressive cast
- Eye candy for action movie fans

The Bad [-0]
- (None)

100 - 0 = 100 points

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Red [2010]

Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox
Genre: Action/Comedy
Rating: General
Comment: "Did not fully live up to its potential, but still a helluva lot better than most action movies nowadays..."

If there's one action star that truly dies hard (pun intended), it would definitely be Bruce Willis. Maybe this is just me being biased to one of my favourite actors, but I believe Bruce Willis can never be in too many action flicks even though he is fast approaching the big 6-0. However, what sets Red apart from a lot of the other action flicks in his resume is the fact that he is sharing screen time with a handful of very talented veteran actors. It may not seem like much for casual movie-goers, but one look at the cast made me cream in my pants.

Red begins rather slow, introducing us to Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) who is a decorated CIA agent coping with retirement. Just when he is beginning to accept this transition, danger comes knocking on his door; the agency he once served is now trying to kill him. Now on the run, he begins to travel across the country in search of answers. Along the way he gets in touch with his fellow retirees, with hilarious results.

I went to see this movie with some idea of what to expect, but for the most part I was mostly curious how are they going to max out the talent meter, because this movie has lots and lots of them. One actor in particular is Dame Helen Mirren. I am not that well-versed in her career as an actress, but I believe this is the first movie where she played a trigger-happy, gun-totting ex-MI6 agent. Needless to say, the little fanboy in me was immensely delighted to see an actor of such calibre not taking herself too seriously this time around and just having fun.

Speaking of which, the same goes to Morgan Freeman, Brian Cox, John Malkovich and Richard Dreyfuss (by the way, how on earth did they get Dreyfuss to sign up for this movie?! Huzzah!!)

In case you didn't know already, Red was said to be "loosely adapted" from the three-issue comic book of the same name. I don't have much to say on this aspect for this is one of those movies where it is easy to overlook the plot because it is just so entertaining.

However, that is not to say that it is not without flaw. Apparently having too much star power can also hurt the movie by not fully utilising their talents. One example in particular is Morgan Freeman, who was very much underused. I understand that this was meant to be one of those light-hearted action comedy flicks, therefore I am not taking any points away for this. It's just that, you can't help but feel like wanting more at the end of the movie. Perhaps a sequel is in order already? If it will continue to serve marvelous action sequences like the one below, I say bring on Red II!

Owh~♫ Hell yeah.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Great casting
- Malkovich is such a showstealer
- Refreshing action sequences
- Badass Helen Mirren

The Bad [-20]
- A bit derivative
- Plot is kinda unfocused

100 - 20 = 80 points
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