RED Special Edition Blu-ray
Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (2.40:1)
Audio: English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Release Date: January 25, 2011
RED is the story of bored, retired CIA agent Frank (Bruce Willis) who finds to his delight that retirement is not permanent when a hit squad shows up to his suburban home and attempts to eliminate him. Frank is RED(Retired, Extremely Dangerous) and seeks help from some old friends in the profession to help him trace the threat to its source. Marvin (John Malkovich) is a loopy ally of Frank’s who no longer has all of his wits about him due to heavy daily doses of LSD administered to him in the past. Another ally is Victoria (Helen Mirren), another retired agent who keeps her hand in things by taking on occasional freelance hit assignments. Joe (Morgan Freeman) is Frank’s dying friend who wants one last chance to go out in a blaze of glory. The excellent cast also includes Karl Urban, Ernest Borgnine, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, and Julian McMahon.
RED is based on the popular graphic novel written by Warren Ellis and originally illustrated by Cully Hamner. The producers of the film have made efforts to make the story a little funnier than the source material, although the final product is not nearly as wacky as the promotional materials imply. To its credit, the film never pretends to realism and never takes itself too seriously.
RED is an entertaining but not overly cerebral spy film with a fair number of action set pieces. RED borrows from many influences in other spy films and what it lacks in originality it makes up for in enthusiasm. The cast always seem to be enjoying themselves and some of that fun is contagious.
The movie is in 1080p high definition in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality is excellent. One would expect to tolerate some black crush in some of the darker scenes but it never rears its ugly head. Contrast and small object detail are similarly flawless.
The English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks are sublime. This disc may have the best directional audio effects on any film I have seen for a very long time. The discrete sound effects of gunshots, shell casings falling on the ground, and explosions may be reference quality. The sounds of helicopters hovering overhead and pan effects may deceive viewers into looking out their windows. Dialogue is always appropriately audible over music and sound effects, creating a sound mix that is immune from criticism.
There is also a standard edition Blu-ray of RED that was not provided for review. The standard edition has Dolby Digital 5.1 instead of the English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks included on this Special Edition Blu-ray.
The special features are exclusive to this Special Edition and include all of the following:
Commentary by retired CIA Field Officer Robert Baer: This commentary is interesting, and brings the fantastic elements of the film into contrast with the more mundane aspects of field espionage described by Baer. The commentary is also available as Picture-in-Picture (PIP) through the ACCESS:RED special feature, with Baer’s upper body blacked out to protect his identity.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (8:46): These scenes are accessible individually and with a "Play All" feature.
ACCESS:RED: This interactive feature is optional and plays during the film to present information about the PIP commentary, cast, crew, production, and music during the movie via a pop-up window on the lower left-hand side of the screen.
A trailer for real-life espionage film Fair Game (2:09) appears by default after the disc is loaded and prior to the main menu. This trailer is not included in the special features, nor are there any trailers included for RED.
If you are looking for an action film with a wealth of gunfire and explosions, and you do not demand a character-oriented piece, then RED makes a very pleasant diversion. How many other films can boast Dame Helen Mirren wielding major weaponry? The cast of actors is excellent in their performances, even if their characters do not come to life as vividly as you might expect. The audio and video presentation are flawless. The special features are adequate but not exceptional. The ACCESS: RED interactive feature is admittedly more diverting than the usual trivia pop-ups that are included with some other discs. In spite of its great cast and production values, RED squanders its potential and is merely an average or slightly above average action film. If you love action films, then you will probably love RED, but RED will not win over audience members who are not otherwise attracted to this genre.