While some movies promote ageism in a world of hot, athletic stars in their 20s and 30s, Red goes the opposite way: an action flick where the people who are old enough to retire (and have done so) consistently shoot, blow up, or beat up the folks in their 20s and 30s. Otherwise, it's more or less the same old.

In the very quick opening, we see Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) living alone in his home. His life seems quiet, and his main occupation seems to be ripping up his social security check so he can talk about it with Sarah Ross (Mary Louise-Parker), a government underling who likes trashy romance novels and chatting with Frank. When a covert assassination squad shows up at Frank's home with machine guns, it's no contest: Frank kills them with ease! It turns out that Frank was one of the best secret agents ever. He realizes he's been under surveillance, so he visits and kidnaps Sarah to keep her safe.

The rest of Red has Frank trying to figure out why someone is out to kill him now. This involves his linking up with old (figuratively and literally) allies: steadfast friend Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), crazed conspiracy theorist Marvin Boggs (Jon Malkovich), and elegant killer Victoria (Helen Mirren). Chasing these retired agents are government hotshot William Cooper (Karl Urban) and his boss Cunthia Wilkes (Rebecca Pidgeon). There are also cameos by Brian Cox (as a Russian agent), Ernest Borgnine (as a keeper of secret records), and William Dreyfuss (as a corrupt businessman).

Red is based on a comic book (which I haven't read), and while the movie has no superpowers, it might as well: The stars can shoot missiles out of the air, beat up numerous people with ease, and apparently walk away from any area no matter how many opponents are swarming about. And that's the problem: While both the movie and the stars approach this more as a joke than a serious action movie (the title, for example, is an acronym for "Retired, extremely dangerous"), the over-the-top action and slowly unraveling conspiracy has been done plenty of times before. Red has more chuckles than excitement, and when you get past the fact that it's the older folks kicking ass, what's left is another deliberately ridiculous action movie.

Overall grade: C+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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