Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Bruce Willis heads up an interesting cast in this comic book adaptation about a group of retired CIA agents who are wanted by ... the CIA. Is it time to put this in a home and leave it to die? Short answer - yes.

Director Robert Schwentke has had a very strange career up to this film. His real break into Hollywood was directing Jodie Foster in the massively average Flightplan and then the ludicrously disgusting The Time Traveller's Wife (which was poorer than the book, if you can imagine such a thing) and now from thriller (if you can call Flightplan a thriller), to drama, to comic book action. I've not seen his first German feature Tattoo which is supposed to be a slightly gory horror neither his follow-up comedy The Family Jewels, but either Schwentke doesn't want to be pigeon-holed, or he can't settle on a genre, or maybe he just doesn't really know what he is any good at. Well let's just say, it ain't this.

Bruce Willis is in retirement getting his kicks by borderline stalking a young woman who is in charge of sending him his cheques (I say young, it's actually played by Weeds Mary-Louise Parker who is actually 46 and looks amazing for it), some agents try and kill him and so he goes on a quest to find out why. The actual plot is ridiculous, I still don't really get the whole picture, something about a cover-up of some mission that has something to do with the Vice President, it's all complete nonsense and the way the characters are introduced is completely lame. Bruce Willis is actually good as his usual cocky yet genuine action hero who oozes charisma, he has aged remarkably well and Parker does a good job as the fish-out-of-water act, in fact you could say the whole film is just her fantasy what with her obsession with romantic pulp novels.

In terms of the rest of the cast, Helen Mirren as a posh British assassin is boring and completely vanilla, the only time she stands out is shooting a massive gun at some cars in an end sequence that is the most long-winded and stupid way of trying to kidnap the Vice President. Who came up with this plan? These guys were CIA? Morgan Freeman who I think could possibly be one of the most overrated black actors ever, apart from maybe Denzel Washington, is a lame duck and the last time we see him can't come soon enough in a rather forgettable fashion. No-one talks about him afterwards thank God. Richard Dreyfuss is some kind of rich businessman behind it all or something, I don't know because I stopped paying attention, but the only real interesting characters were John Malkovich's paranoid schizo (originally to be played by John C Reilly - which would have been terrible), Brian Cox as a suave Russian ex-spy and Karl Urban as the young agent trying to chase them down. Clearly the whole cast had fun shooting the whole thing and this comes across as you watch the movie, but it's a complete disappointment.

The action is okay with the best bits in the trailer and they've tried to flesh out the characters a bit but it doesn't work, instead I thought it was a 'shoot-now-ask-questions-later' scenario where they were never really taking anything seriously. So the novelty of old killers is fun for about 45 minutes, but after that it's hard to keep interested. What with such terrible comic adaptations sprouting up where studios are trying to cash in on the comic buck as soon as possible rather than letting a script evolve for a while, you get fodder like The Losers and remakes of films only recently been made (Hulk/Spiderman/Superman) and unfortunately films like Red.

Retired Extremely Dangerous? More like Really Excruciatingly Disappointing.

Rating: 4/10

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