"RED" Review: A Thrill A Minute From First-Rate Cast

The action tale "Red" rounds out the best picture, comedy or musical category. READ MORE: Full List of Nominees SPECIAL SECTION: Awards Season
AP Photo/Summit Entertainment
Helen Mirren is shown in a scene from "RED." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment)

NEW YORK (CBS) With a top-notch cast that keeps you dizzy, Bruce Willis' latest action-thriller is poised to leave you feeling as if you've just come off the greatest roller-coaster ride of your life.

About the only way to describe "RED" is an action-adventure on steroids; if you think the "senior" luxury-brand cast makes for a slower pace, you couldn't be more wrong.

Based on the DC Comics cult-favorite graphic novel by Warren Ellis, the film stars Bruce Willis as Frank Moses, a former black-ops CIA agent who has traded in his gun and holster for a quiet life of solitude. That is, until a hit-squad shows up at his door with a mission to take out him and his new-found love interest, Sarah, (Mary-Louise Parker) whom he met over the phone.

With his identity compromised and the life of his paramour, who works in a government office, in jeopardy, Frank calls into action his old A Team operatives. The only problem is, the secrets they learned while on active duty as top agents suddenly turn them into the agency's top targets.

This adventure spy thriller doesn't stop or slow down for a second after we learn who Moses really is. Adding to the hi-jinx are these ex operatives: Academy Award-winning Morgan Freeman; scene stealer John Malkovich, who is absolutely brilliant as a paranoid Marvin Boggs, a master-of-disguise CIA operative given daily doses of LSD for 11 years; and Oscar winner Helen Mirren as a retired British operative now running an upscale bed-and-breakfast, but who in her own words "still takes the odd contract on the side."

Adding the title of action star to her resume, Mirren is mind-blowing as an ex-assassin Victoria who dusts off her barrage of machine guns to annihilate the enemy, remaining ever the lady while doing so. Mirren says she fashioned her character on Martha Stewart, calling her a perfectionist with a mix of "strength, efficiency and practicality."

Both Mirren and Malkovich bring joy to the screen in their respective scenes and provide many of the film's highlights. Willis is believable as the agent-turned-ordinary-guy, trying to hold on to the woman he's grown to love over the phone. Appearances by Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine add to the hysterical antics.

Sharp dialogue from John and Erich Hoeber ("Whiteout"), who wrote the screenplay, provide a laugh a minute, along with intense action, explosions galore and a smart story, capably told through the directing skills of Robert Schwentke ("The Time Traveler's Wife").

All told "RED" provides a high-quality story, with all the trappings of a mega-blockbuster film. No wonder then, the film is left wide open to spawning a franchise that will no doubt keep the laughs and thrills spilling our way.