RED (2010) (Blu-ray)

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Released 29-Mar-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Audio Commentary-Robert Baer - Retired CIA Operative
Featurette-Access: RED Picture-in-Picture
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 111:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Schwentke
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Bruce Willis
Mary-Louise Parker
John Malkovich
Helen Mirren
Karl Urban
Morgan Freeman
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $49.95 Music Christophe Beck


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     For retired CIA special services operative Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) this day has begun like any other. He wakes at 6 AM, without the need for an alarm, by force of habit. After having a mundane work out and boring breakfast in his almost empty house Frank settles down to his only real joy - a phone chat with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) a sweet natured employee of the government who handles Frank's pension, knowing nothing of his past. From there things get a little out of hand…

     When a highly trained hit squad raids his house in the middle of the night, reducing it to rubble, Frank knows that something bad is up. It takes a while before he works out that forces within his own government are actively attempting to assassinate agents, including Black-Ops specialists like him. Kidnapping Sarah for her own good, Frank embarks on a road trip accompanied by an assortment of former agents. Some like Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman) have well and truly retired, settling into the cosy nursing home routine. Others, like Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) are living off the grid and just a little bit crazy. Former Russian secret agent Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox) misses the Cold War and Helen Mirren, playing former "wetwork" specialist Victoria, spends her days flower arranging and cooking as well as taking one or two hits on the side! With the exception of Sarah they are all living in boredom and regret for their former exciting lives. Whilst the assassination attempts they face, from a highly organised hit squads, might raise their stress levels it also invigorates their empty lives. But can they see it out to the end, where a shady conspiracy is going on between vice presidential candidates, arms dealers and a lethally efficient CIA operative played by Karl Urban?

     RED is an action film with a heavy emphasis on the comedy. Although the film features a pretty high body count the kills are interspersed with the sort of one-liners that Arnie used to dish out in the 80s after dispensing a nameless hood. The joy of the film is in the oldies rush - seeing Bruce Willis in action and watching a couple of old-timers like Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman mixing it up with the best. Even that venerable tough guy Ernest Borgnine gets a nice little part, proving that you don't have to stop working at 94! The film was a huge success at the box office last year earning over $180 million. A sequel is apparently in the works. In fact, the sequel could well be a better movie. Part of the process of RED was to carefully introduce us to these geriatric gunmen. At times the film dragged as the characters were fleshed out. Bruce Willis can do wisecracking, kick-ass heroes in his sleep but the real revelations come with Helen Mirren as the rueful retiree and John Malkovich as the crazy one. Malkovich, who has spent a good deal of his career being scarily crazy, puts on a great show as the CIA operative who was deliberately fed LSD on a daily basis during his working life! The gorgeous Parker is also a treat.

     The film is no great shakes but it is a robust and entertaining action flick featuring some over-the-top action that perhaps fits its origin as a graphic novel. As said, hopefully the sequel will come off and pay even greater dividends for our investment in these characters.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     RED was shot on 35mm film and projected at the cinema at a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this Blu-ray release.

     The film has been beautifully shot by cinematographer Florian Ballhaus. The Blu-ray image is very crisp and clear. The level of detail is superb right down to the wrinkles on the retired agents’ faces.

     The colours are bright and vibrant where they are meant to be and grim and grey in the underground areas of Langley. There is very little grain evident and no problems with compression or other technical issues. This is a visually enticing and exciting film.

     There are subtitles in English For the Hearing Impaired which give a good account of on-screen action.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    RED carries a meaty DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. In keeping with the superb visuals the soundtrack is an exciting and quality effort. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. The music, by composer Christophe Beck, is suitable to the piece with lots of drama and tension. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. The explosions are deeply felt in the sub-woofer and there is a good degree of separation in the 5.1 soundtrack, particularly in the shootouts and fight scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The Blu-ray of RED contains a few interesting extras.

Audio Commentary - Robert Baer

     The commentary track is by retired CIA operative Robert Baer. This is a very unusual choice as Baer was an adviser on the technical aspects of the film but otherwise had no real role in the filmmaking process. Handing over a commentary track to someone who is not a filmmaker could have been a disaster. Fortunately, Baer is an entertaining, if necessarily dry, speaker who explains in fairly clear terms what aspects of the film were extremely accurate and which were flights of fancy. It is clear that he enjoyed watching the made up stuff as much as the carefully researched segments. Of course, the fact that there are real CIA operatives roaming around with shoot-to-kill orders is not particularly comforting but this commentary track is nevertheless a worthy and entertaining listen.

Deleted Scenes

     There are a total of 10 deleted and extended scenes on offer. Unfortunately, there is really very little to be gained from watching these snippets, some of which add mere seconds to the included scenes. I had a giggle at the post-post-credit sequence in Moldova but otherwise these can be skipped.

Access :Red

     This is a PIP (Picture In Picture) feature. When accessed a rectangle pops up in the right hand bottom corner of the screen with short videos. Some are on-set materials with the actors talking about how much fun they had making the movie and there are a couple of segments giving a background to the CIA. It is a bit of a cheat but parts of the commentary track, with Robert Baer blacked out, are repeated for the PIP. Worth a watch but nothing great.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  The Blu-ray for our Region is identical to the Region A Blu-ray.

Summary

     RED is an enjoyable romp which, probably due to the senior citizens on display, had appeal to a wide demographic. The movie is a little stodgy around the middle but it would be churlish to pick on the small disappointments when the overall experience is a hoot.

     The Blu-ray is a good looking, good sounding affair. The extras are a little offbeat but worth a watch.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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