RED

Only a few months since "The Expendables", that film about a bunch of ageing tough guys still kicking ass, here’s another action movie that sees retirement-home stars playing with heavy guns.

"Red" (short for Retired, and Extremely Dangerous) stars Bruce Willis as a former CIA operative who spends his time staying in shape and engaging in a polite phone-flirtation with Mary Louise-Parker, who plays a chatty call-centre employee at the pensions department. His dreams of starting a new chapter in his life with her are rudely interrupted when a team of masked hitmen tries to kill him. He deals with them without so much as breaking into a sweat, but can’t seem to figure out why his life is suddenly under threat. Gathering his girlfriend-to-be, he goes on the run and rounds up his old team of mercenaries to help piece together this unexpected puzzle.

His buddies include Morgan Freeman, a mischievous octogenarian with an eye for nurses in his old-age home; John Malkovich, a paranoid eccentric holed up in a bunker, convinced he’s being watched; Brian Cox, a vodka-swiveling Russian agent who insists he hasn’t killed anyone in years; and my favourite, Helen Mirren, a former hitwoman who now runs a bed-and-breakfast, but who misses the action-packed life she once led.

As the oldies reunite to fend off the bad guys, the stage is set for a smart spy caper. Unfortunately, however, the script runs out of steam well before the end, and the silliness becomes tiring. Still there’s enough spark from distinguished older performers who’re obviously not taking it too seriously. Nothing can beat the sight of the 65-year-old British thesp and Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren aiming to fire an Uzi, dressed in an elegant white ball-gown. It’s stray moments like these that make you smile.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for "Red". The action isn’t particularly thrilling, and the cartoonish violence is fun, but only in spurts. Watch it if you’re in the mood for silly!

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