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Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/25/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/22/2011; Updated on 8/25/2017
Ask anyone in the entertainment industry and they will tell you that it's a youth dominated culture. Hollywood goes out of its way to cater to a younger crowd, usually identified as being between 15 and 24, and they love this age group's disposable income (I don't even remember what that term means.) Just look at something like theTwilight movies -- would they have been anywhere near as successful if they had marketed to adults? So, when a movie like Red comes along -- an action film starring not just adults, but older adults -- and is a box-office success, we must pay attention...because you know that Hollywood is.
Bruce Willis stars in Red as Frank Moses, a retired CIA who lives alone. His life is made up of precise routines, as he attempts to fit in in suburbia. The one bright spot is when his monthly pension check arrives. When this occurs, he calls the pension office in Kansas City claiming that he didn't get his payment. Frank does this in order to talk with Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) and their conversations cover topics such as travel and romance novels. One night, a group of assassins visits Frank's home. After taking care of them, he decides that this has something to do with his talks with Sarah and heads to Kansas City to "pick her up". They then travel to New Orleans, where Frank approaches his old friend Joe (Morgan Freeman) for help. However, CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is trailing Frank, and soon he and Sarah are on the run again. Seeking assistance from former colleagues Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren), Frank begins to piece together the truth behind who is after him and he learns that everyone he knows may be a target.
It's interesting that I mentioned marketing in my opening because despite the fact that Red is a unique product, there was still some clever marketing going one with this movie. Clearly, the central conceit of the film is that it features a group of older (and famous) actors in an action movie. It didn't take much more than the sight of Helen Mirren holding a machine gun in the trailer for many filmgoers to say, "OK, I'm there." The surprising thing about Red is that there is much more to it than one would expect or that the marketing suggested.
In fact, Red is a little hard to describe. After serving his country for decades and killing many people, Frank is ready for a normal life and he decides that he could have that with Sarah. The problem is that they don't really know one another, save for their phone conversations. So, the adventures featured in the movie serve to form the basis of their courtship. In this respect, Red is almost like a romantic-comedy which just happens to have a lot of explosions happening. The movie also bucks convention by having a diverse group of characters, many of whom play off of stereotypes. Marvin is the classic paranoid character who doesn't trust the government or technology, but Malkovich takes this to such delirious heights that he often seems to be in his own movie. Likewise, Karl Urban's William Cooper is the kind of "by the books" lawman which is familiar to audiences, but his bravado and willingness to take a punch sets this character apart. We've seen women in action films before, but having Dame Helen Mirren in the film takes Red to another level, not just because of the clout she lends the movie, but because she gives Victoria such elegance and grace.
I generally hate to use this term when describing movies, but Red is a fun movie, which plays as a perfect combination of the old and the old. The overall storyline is nothing new, as it harkens back to many action movies of the 80s. But, that's not what's important here. The movie brings us interesting and unique characters doing things that we rarely see in movies -- and this isn't simply related to their ages. Yes, the fact that the characters are older than our usual action heroes is part of Red's charm (and it's also a plot point in many scenes), but the movie never has to fall back on this novelty. The dialogue is clever, the movie is well-paced and Director Robert Schwentke knows how to direct an action scene. Great cast, great action, and Helen Mirren with a giant gun -- Red is a delight and you'll have to watch the movie to learn what the title means.
Red will make you appreciate a tidy intruder on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Summit Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 27 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture has a nice crispness to it which lends it a notable amount of detail (we can make out textures on objects). The depth is excellent in some scenes, as the foreground and background are clearly delineated. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done, as they show good separation. The surround sound effects really bring the action scenes to life, and there are several moments where we can pick out individual sounds in the rear speakers. The subwoofer gets a workout from the gunplay in the film.
The Red Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras. "Access: Red" allows the viewer to watch the film and view pop-up trivia (about the CIA, the movie, and the world in general), along with picture-in-picture interviews with the cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage. Some of this is interesting and some...is dumb. You can also watch the film with an AUDIO COMMENTARY form retired CIA Field Officer Robert Baer. The Disc contains ten DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 9 minutes. Most of these fall into the "extended scene" category, as there is only a few seconds of new footage here. The only one worth watching is the last one, which adds another joke to the epilogue.
On September 5, 2017, Lionsgate brought Red to 4K UHD. The film has been letterboxed 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 75 Mbps. The image extremely sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The depth here is excellent, as the actors are clearly separate from the backgrounds, and there is a quasi-3D look here. The colors look very nice and the image is not overly dark or bright. The level of detail is notable, as we can make out textures on objects. The overall crispness of the picture makes this a great transfer. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences provide palpable subwoofer effects which deliver wall-shaking bass. These same scenes also bring us detailed surround and stereo effects, which includes individual sounds at times. The sound moves very smoothly from speaker-to-speaker. This is certainly a nice upgrade from the Blu-ray Disc.
The 4K UHD of Red contains the same extra features as the Blu-ray Disc with the exception of "Access: Red", which is not included.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2011/2017