Few will agree with me, but I rank Red above Inception in my entertainment scale. That is the key word; entertainment. Red is a movie I will own, and I will own it mostly because of John Malkovich’s portrayal of Boggs. Make no mistake, all of the characters in this movie weave seamlessly into the unfolding tapestry, but Boggs steals the movie as the lovable eccentric homicidal paranoid comic relief.
Yes, it’s not fair; this is an action movie with lots of guns, fights, and subtly smart humor. It’s pretty much aimed squarely at me; how could I not like it? Well, I can tell you I will not own a copy of The A-Team, nor of The Expendables; they too are action movies, but they offer nothing beyond the gun-play and explosions. Don’t misunderstand; even with no plot to speak of, those movies are a guilty pleasure.
But Red offers characters who make us forget the wafer-thin plot. It helps the actors are all veterans able to slip into their respective personas without making it obvious they are acting. I even found Mary-Louise Parker passable in her role as . . . well, whatever her role was. And yes, none of these roles were a stretch for these actors. Well, maybe with the exception of Helen Mirren; I don’t recall her ever playing a gun-toting hit-woman who revels in her chosen profession.
Some portions of the movie harkens back to the original TV-series The A-Team; thousands of rounds being shot, and no one ever gets hit. In this case it’s OK because it is good guys shooting at law enforcement so as to keep them occupied; good guys don’t kill other good guys. Still, full automatic gunfire is not as controllable as one might think. It makes for an annoying, recurring, but ultimately small quibble with the movie.
There is not much more to say about this movie. No deep analysis of the plot, no exploration into the intricacies of human emotion motivating the characters and propelling the action. This is a high level of pure entertainment . . . at least for those who, like me, revel in the action genre.
And that brings us to my favorite movie of the year.
A long time ago I saw little benefit to reproduction, and therefore I opted to be stingy with my genetic material, keeping it out of the genetic pool. I might have opted different had I watched this movie during my fertile years, for who in their right mind would pass on the chance to raise their very own Hit Girl. No one ever told me you could mold kids into efficient, cheerful, snarky killing machines. Yes, I am speaking about the main reason to watch my favorite movie of the year, Kick-Ass. A few minutes after we finished watching the rental I was on the net ordering my own copy of Kick-Ass.
I understand the movie is based on a comic, and purists out there will likely laud the paper medium, and find fault with the movie adaptation. They will not sway me from my firm belief this was the best film I saw all year. The best film I saw in the past few years. In fact it ranks up there in my very short list of Most Favorites Ever. MFE movies are an eclectic mix of movies spanning genres and decades, but have one thing in common. They presented me not only with something new, but also with characters I wish I would have met in real life.
Pre-refrigerator Indiana Jones, Quigly, the crew of Serenity, Jason Bourne, Leon, Agent 47, and so on. And to that list, I now add Hit Girl. In fact, she vaults to the top of the Most Lethal Good Guys list, and does so with little effort, a great attitude toward killing, and a dedication and fearlessness matched by few.
Of course, there is more to the movie than a slice-and-dice killer kid; there is a genuine attempt to bring people to task for their increasing unwillingness to act, get involved, take ownership of the very human responsibility of helping others, and for people’s reluctance to challenge wrongdoing. Sure, it’s not a deep message, but it is presented with lots of humor, lots of bullets, and an over-abundance of squibs.
The title character exemplifies the positive motivation of the would-be hero; a desire to help. What motivates Kick-Ass is not revenge, or the responsibility associated with great power. There is great line in the movie; ‘With no power, comes no responsibility. Except, that wasn’t true’. He knows he possesses no special power, as brought home by a very painful lesson at his first outing, but he perseveres.
Bid Daddy is somewhat flawed because he is motivated by revenge, but Hit Girl has a chilling innocence to her. She is killing bad guys, and that’s just the way it is . . . or rather, from my point of view, how it should be.
There is no malice to it, no remorse, no angst; she understands the simple truth. There are bad guys; they hurt and kill others, and that makes them fair sport. The casualness of the bad guys as they go about being bad guys is a great counter to Hit Girl’s casualness in taking them out; it’s just how things are.
I should mention . . . perhaps the best moments in the movie are those where the head bad guy, Frank D’Amico (well played by Mark Strong) attempts to comprehend the slaughter of his henchmen. Unlike the bad guys in superhero movies, he is not the kind of stupid who goes up against a super-powered hero. I’m sure were he challenged by a Superman or Spiderman, he would be smart enough retire, or move to another city. But these are regular heroes who dare oppose him, and the concept is obviously foreign to him, as is the culling of his minions.
A large factor in me liking this movie is the heroes are not restricted by idiotic limitation such as self-imposed rules against killing bad guys. And being regular people, there is no weakness to their powers; their power is their willingness to take action. Once that decision is made, their determination is the only limiting factor. Mind you, there are still weaknesses that can be exploited by the bad guys, but retribution is swift, deadly, and dealt by a little dynamo in purple hair and home-made regular-hero costume.
I know a lot of people do not like violence. Many others object to coarse language. Many will find it offensive to hear certain words spoken by an eleven-year old girl. Do yourself a favor; get over all that, and enjoy one of the best movies of the year.