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Red (2010)
The action genre got a fresh coat of paint in 2010 with Red, an ultra-slick and sophisticated spy thriller that sizzles on all four cylinders thanks to some deft scripting, indescribable set pieces and technical gadgetry, and a cast of professionals in front of the camera.

A reporter for the NY Times is found murdered with a list of people who are dead or are being targeted for execution. One of those people is a retired CIA agent named Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) who decides to reassemble his old team (Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox) in order to get the bottom of this. Thrown into the mix is a government pensions case worker (Mary-Louise Parker) who has developed a relationship with Frank over the phone, which has been bugged, so she becomes a target as well.

Screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber hit a bullseye with their crafting of this slam bang spy adventure that is a near perfect blend of enough technical gadgetry for five James Bond movies and three dimensional characters whose experience and skills never turn them into superheroes. These are human beings caught up in some extraordinary circumstances triggered by their history and not always having the ability to control the consequences of their history.

The most intriguing part of this story was the back and forth between the good guys and the bad guys and how it kept changing thanks to some incredible state of the art technology unlike anything I have ever seen. There's a scene near the beginning of the film where Frank stashes the case worker in a hotel room in New Orleans and it only takes the bad guys a matter of hours to locate her. Or when the case worker gets nabbed by the bad guy later while almost simultaneously Frank is in the bad guy's house threatening his family. Both sides of the story stay one step ahead of each other, often by minutes, but which side is ahead changes at a startling pace throughout, courtesy of red herrings and false stars that require complete attention that totally pays off.

Bouquets to director Robert Schwentke for mounting an eye-popping action adventure populated with actual human beings that we actually come to care about. I've complained in other reviews about actors being too old to be doing action movies, but no such thing going on with Bruce Willis here. He is the personification of understated cool and a viable action hero, over three decades since Die Hard. I loved the chemistry generated by Willis and Parker, it reminded me of Dean Martin and Stella Stevens in The Silencers. John Malkovich also steals every scene he's in as the shell-shocked Marvin. Mention should also be made of a classy cameo by veteran Ernest Borgnine as a CIA records keeper. Fans of Willis and the genre will find gold here.