nicked from imdbI found Red, a 2010 action comedy, an amusing diversion. Good actors, decent script (based on Warren Ellis source material), nice soundtracking and editing. Bruce Willis plays a retired CIA agent who stumbles on a series of murders and ropes in John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren to get to the bottom of the case. Done successfully, with a nice bad guy flip at the end.

The movie did, however, hit three of my sore spots regarding movies in general. I’d like to say these problems are limited to genre fare, but they’re not.

The first is relatively minor, but I think it’s astoundingly common. Take the one really cool special effect – the one about which the effects department is most proud – and put it in the trailer. No! Let it actually astound the audience in its proper context the way it was supposed to.

Note: Spoilers below.

Sore spot number two: Fails the Bechdel test rather spectacularly. It does have two named female characters – in major roles, even. They get one scene together in which they have quite a bit of time to discuss a rather pressing matter at hand. It’s the only scene in which they’re alone together. Do they talk about the elephant in the room – several dozen soldiers approaching with large-calibre weapons pointed in their general direction? No. They talk about a man. Why? It would have been really simple to put the bit about the man somewhere else (because it is a little important) and talk about the fact that they might die if they don’t handle things just right.

Sore spot number three: Big spoiler. One of the good guys is black. He is quite literally sacrificed for the cause. We know early on that the character is dying, but why, again, kill off the minority guy? They did the same thing in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (yeah, different genre, but still in the popular film category). Of all the characters to kill off, kill the gay guy. I think it’s the same trope. Malkovich could easily have played Freeman’s role, though I don’t think audiences would have believed Freeman delivering the Malkovich character’s acid-baked insanity.

I think it would have been a 4-star film (of its type), but those three sore spots knock it down to three.