Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RED; a review and reflection

My wife and I went and saw the film RED earlier this week. Perhaps as a lifelong action film watcher it seemed appropriate to watch a movie with hope for the future. The action heroes were not contemporaries and thank goodness were not a generation behind me but rather were from an older generation.

the The film directed by Robert Schwentke was a well written and brilliantly cast action comedy, just what was needed to celebrate the end of my wife’s University exams. The one liners and dialogue while being a bit predictable were above average but the delivery from a stellar cast actually made it well worth enduring the poor customer service from our local events cinema (a very long quote waiting for tickets being served by three cashiers, who while they worked efficiently and pleasantly has been let down by their management).

Bruce Willis was... well classic Bruce Willis... which after all is what you want to see in a movie staring ... Bruce Willis. He seems to play the same part over and over again under different guises. Willis plays Frank Moses a retired CIA black-op’s agent bored with retirement and wrestling with living a quite life in suburbia, but not bored enough to relish having death squads out to Kill him. John Malkovich plays part of his old team, who is rather a burn out, was the subject of mind altering experiments and has a very developed sense of paranoia (and why shouldn’t he his instincts that people are out to get him are proven correct), he steal all the scenes he is in and as one reviewer said, if Johhny Depp could get an Oscar for his portrayal of Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ then Malkovich should at least get a nomination for this role. Morgan Freeman also puts in a typically great performance. Helen Mirren is both positively charming as a aging hit women and also totally believable when the stone cold killer side of her character comes to the fore. Even Mary-Louise Parker manages to hold her own in such exalted company. Earnest Borgnine does a cameo as the Henry the records keeper in CIA headquarters. It seems appropriate that he is kept in a vault as a treasure, and in his scene with Willis you get an almost palpable sense of he deep respect and genuine warms Willis and through him the rest of the cast and crew have for this legend of the scene.

It’s interesting to see movies like this and that other almost last hurray for action heroes, and as one critic said perfect example of a 1980’s action movie, “The Expendables’ (2010), and of course, the homage to its own franchise ‘Die Hard 4.0, because they reflect a whole generation of actors having to come to terms with growing older and either looking for new roles and reinventing themselves or encouraging writers to write older parts. As the movie was about people who struggled to retire from the excitement of their work and settle into a world that didn’t seem to want or value their experience or desire their input and jet who had so much to give it got me thinking about life, community and of course church.
In his book ‘SoulSalsa’ Leonard Sweet devotes a chapter to the idea of preparing to be Methuselah, that in the west anyway there is a whole generation of people who are living to an older age and being able to be more active to an older age. He illustrates this with an amazing list of people who have become known in their fields of art and endeavour right into their 80’s and 90’s. In a country where the welfare system is under pressure from an aging population there is a real move for people to stay at work for longer. I guess the civil unrest in France recently at the increase of the age which people will receive a state pension is an example of this. In the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand the average of age of attending has continued to go up and up and for someone who has maintained that my mission in life is to see emerging generations of New Zealanders become lifelong followers of Jesus Christ for the good of the world God loves’ I found it a real challenge from God to realise that the fastest emerging generation in our country is the older-old.

AS a church we have been kept going by people who have grown older and still have the energy and desire to contribute and lead. One of the most significant moves in Missions recently has been retired people investing time in short term and even long term mission and aid and development activity.
On reflecting on the film RED (retired extremely dangerous) there are a few things that I hope as I get older I will enact. The first is that in the film there was a real sense of that the way things were done when Willis and Co were in the agency was the best way. Maybe the time lapse between their involvement and now isn’t that huge but the new guard were portrayed as not quite up to scratch. Malkovich’s character quips to Mirren, ‘I remember the secret service being tougher than this’. I hope that I do not 9and I have to even check myself at the moment) look back to an idealised past and evaluate everything from that perspective. I hope my attitude is always one of encouragement and a willingness to encourage and support the new, and when asked to objectively mentor those who have taken the baton over. Sadly I have seen some churches where a certain age group often those with the longest involvement have continued to want control rather than wanting to contribute. I hope I know the difference.
In the end I hope that I will hear and head the words of a sermon I preached at the church my in laws attend a long time ago. That in God’s kingdom retirement is going home to glory, God does not retire people he retreads them and look to be productive and contribute to the kingdom of God and seeing emerging generations become lifelong followers of Christ, I may never be RED but I hope I was always be ready. ready at any and every age to encourage, contribute even step up, be part of the team and even to  innovate.


  1. Plus it's orignally a comic book!

  2. LOL yes i was aware of that Stephen. But I also knew you'd also know. Ps Liked the green Lantern trailer you posted on your blog.