A discussion of Red (2010)

RedReleased: October 15, 2010. Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman. Runtime: 111 min. 

I’m joined by Dave over at Dave Examines Movies for a fairly short discussion of the 2010 actioner “Red,” starring Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman, to name a few members of the core cast. It seems that, as an effort to appeal to older audiences, many studios have making movies that appeal to the older audience; like “Hope Springs” or “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” But “Red” is no heartwarming dramedy – it’s an exciting action comedy, that came a few months after the release of Sylvester Stallone’s attempt to launch “The Expendables” franchise. Like “The Expendables,” it isn’t great in the story department – but it’s a truly fun experience.

The story follows Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a former black-ops agent, who, after his life was threatened, has to regroup his old team in a last effort to survive and uncover his assailants.

Now, for the discussion I had with Dave… (Enjoy!)

Daniel: So Dave, how’d you like the movie?

Dave: I thought it was good, funny, and handled rather well for an ensemble comedy. I had some issues with how memorable it was though, how about you?

Daniel: I liked it, as well. Great fun, at least it’s more memorable than the other Willis geriatric actioner, “The Expendables” – so that has to count for something. What was your main issue with it?

Dave: I basically realized that the story in general was rather forgettable. I have seen “Red” once before when it first came out, and for a film that isn’t even five years old, I couldn’t remember what the premise was even about past a bunch of old guys in humorous action sequences, and yes, a lot of fun. To me, that seems to suggest little focus was actually spent on the story. For what it was, it’s exciting and hilarious to watch in the moment, but there are some things that escape your memory as time passes.

Daniel: Now that I think about that, and even though I only watched for the first time about a month ago, I’m only remembering the premise as Willis is a dangerous retiree who has to survive against a bunch of people who are trying to kill him. And I can’t remember what their motivations really were, to kill him. But do comic book adaptations usually have generic stories? It seems so, but like you say, I find it a blast – it certainly has a rewatchability factor.

Dave: It does, I agree. You can rewatch this for the sheer enjoyability of the thing. This is one of the only instances where I say screw the story, it was presented in such a fashion that you can have a blast watching. In some respect, it reminds me of a humorous version of “The Expendables”, but that’s fine, given the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Expendables.” For Red, you have a great display of chemistry between the characters and a good amount of individual humor shared between them. You might not care about *why* they are doing the things they are doing, but you do care about the characters themselves, and love watching them in action.

Daniel: Definitely! For a movie that doesn’t truly care about the story, I at least don’t have the trouble I do trying to explain the plot of something like that “The Expendables” or, even though they aren’t alike, “Grown Ups“. The characters and the action are what matter, here. The chemistry is on-point. I think the relationship between Willis and Parker is charming. I think Marvin is the best character. Malkovich is so hilarious as that eccentric.

Dave: I just love Malkovich in anything he is a part of. That man is all over the place, and I love it. As for how the movie looks: It set a tone, and it stuck to it. There is never a moment in the film where you feel like something was done out of place. You understand the world the film takes place in, and it remains consistent throughout. Is there anything negative you have to say about it?

Daniel: Agreed, director Robert Schwentke knows what he wants to do with it. Not majorly, no. For an ensemble piece, everyone gets a chance to shine, even if I felt Morgan Freeman wasn’t utilized as well as he could have been. And I was underwhelmed by the antagonists. And, like we discussed, the lack of greatness in the story department. I find when the film doesn’t have the greatest story, it’s more difficult to discuss. Do you feel the need to mention anything about it?

Dave: I would just have to say the lack of a memorable storyline dragged this film to a place it didn’t want to be in. Having that downfall basically made Red a tad forgettable in an area that will hurt them in the end. Years after people watch it, and when it pops up in a conversation, they’ll be saying, “Remember that one funny movie…with the old people…and all the violence?” Well, that could be a number of films. This film is unique in a way, it just doesn’t have the long-term click that makes it fully memorable… Do you have a rating for it?

Daniel: Hahah exactly. I’d give it a 78, because it’s not quite at an 80, lol. And even though I’m not a fan of giving random-ish scores like that any more, I think I have to bend the rules for this one.  What would you give it?

Dave: Close to yours, actually, I gave it a 76, because I see it as better than 75. Thanks for discussing Red with me, and I hope we can do it again sometime soon!

Daniel: Nice! Thanks for the discussion, Dave. I hope so, too! Would you want to discuss the sequel once we both see it?

Dave: I was going to suggest the same thing. Sounds like a plan!

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January 11-13 Box Office Predictions

The first weekend of 2013 had surprising earnings with Texas Chainsaw 3D, but great nonetheless. It won’t hold the top spot a second time, I think that’ll go to Zero Dark Thirty. Here are the  new releases for the weekend:

A Haunted House

A Haunted House

Plot: Malcolm and Keisha move into their dream home, but soon learn a demon also resides there. When Kisha becomes possessed, Malcolm – determined to keep his sex life on track – turns to a priest, a psychic, and a team of ghost-busters for help.

Marlon Wayans brings us a feature that parodies popular horror films months before Scary Movie 5, a series he and his brother started. I’m not sure if Wayans is attempting to reinvent the parody genre, but if anyone can do it, it might just be him. Even though I laughed once at the trailer. It won’t be as big a hit as Scary Movie, but it’ll certainly be better than anything those idiots Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (Disaster MovieMeet the Spartans) can dish out to the unsuspecting public. The opening weekends of the Scary Movie have faced a range between $20.5 million (with the second installment) and $48.1 million (with the third installment). And the Friedberg/Seltzer films’ opening weekend range from $5.8 million (Disaster Movie) to $18.6 million (Epic Movie). Anyway, I think A Haunted House will gross higher than Disaster Movie, but lower than Epic Movie. It’ll be somewhere in the middle.

A.H.H. Box Office Prediction: $10, 500, 000

Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad

Plot: A chronicle of the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.

The real attraction of Gangster Squad is its true crime story vibe and its ensemble cast (including Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Sean Penn). It will also be interesting to see comedy director Ruben Fleischer (30 Minutes or Less and Zombieland) direct this cast, and what he’d do with this 1949 crime drama. A similar film to this, American Gangster, grossed $43.5 million its opening weekend and the other crime drama in theaters right now, Jack Reacher, grossed $15.2 million its opening weekend. I don’t think it’s very realistic that it would gross close to American Gangster’s number, but it will most likely make more money than Jack Reacher. 

G.S. Box Office Prediction: $21, 000, 000

Quartet

Quartet

Plot: At a home for retired opera singers, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.

The limited release of the weekend, Quartet comes to a mere two theaters. This is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, and it is a comedy that mostly appeals to adults that makes me think of 2011’s Hope Springs and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Quartet Box Office Prediction: $16, 000

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

Plot: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011.

It sure is the greatest manhunt in history.  Zero Dark Thirty also seems like an incredible film to watch unfold. Kathryn Bigelow is the director to take on this project. It’s already made $4.6 million, and now it’s going wide. Right after the Oscar nominations are being released tomorrow. The Hurt Locker grossed $17 million, but it wasn’t a very wide release. This is going to gross more in its (wide) opening weekend than T.H.L. grossed in its entire run.

Z.D.T. Box Office Prediction: $23, 500, 000

The holdovers of Django Unchained and Les Mis shouldn’t drop severely because of the Oscar nominations tomorrow. Here’s how I see the top 10:

Top 10 Box Office Predictions

Title/Prediction/Studio/Rotten Tomatoes Score

1. Zero Dark Thirty/ $23, 500, 000/ Sony/ 94%
2. Gangster Squad/ $21, 000, 000/ Warner Bros./ 55%
3. Django Unchained/ $16, 250, 000/ Weinstein Company/ 89%
4. Texas Chainsaw 3D/ $15, 000, 000/ Lionsgate/ 19%
5. Les Misérables/ $14, 000, 000/ Universal/ 70%
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey/ $12, 000, 000/ Warner Bros./ 65%
7. A Haunted House/ $10, 500, 000/ ORF
8. Parental Guidance/ $6, 000, 000/ Fox/ 19%
9. Jack Reacher/ $5, 900, 000/ Paramount/ 61%
10. This is 40/ $5, 350, 000/ Universal/ 51%