Special to The Dagger
All of us dream of a day when we will walk into our work place for the last time, eat cake with “Happy Retirement” written on it, and joyfully walk out the door to enjoy the extended vacation we have earned. Of course, like many things in life, this blissful dream is not as rosy as it appears.
A recent study by the Employer’s Forum on Aging found that 93 percent of people over the age of 60 liked to work. Perhaps so much of our lives is defined by our work persona that many find it hard to leave behind. Recent economic times have also forced many retirees back into the workforce. Then there are also covert CIA sting operations that force you out of retirement and into harrowing gun fights while trekking across the nation. Sure beats the Sunday morning shift at Burger King.
The film, based off the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, delivers fast-paced action and superb acting for an enjoyable night out. Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is living a slow paced, regimented retirement when he is set upon by assassins, later learned to have been sent by the CIA. Upon escaping he sets off to save the girl Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) he has been exchanging phone calls with at the Social Security Administration before the CIA gets to her. As the story unfolds, Frank reconnects with his former partners, played by Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Hellen Mirren, and unravels the mystery behind the assassination attempt.
The best part of this film by far is the cast. A better metaphor could not be made for un-retirement than the top notch performance of the three of the four main characters. Unfortunately, Morgan Freeman does not get nearly enough screen time and exists solely as a plot device. The action scenes are explosive and intense in an obvious ode to the comic genre. The comedic timing is spot-on. Frank and Sarah prevail as one of the best onscreen duos in a while. Once the action and comedy settle out and the plot is brought to the fore front, the film begins to lag. Almost half the film seems to be endless introductions to new characters. By the end it all ties together nicely, but it is a long road to get there.
The intrigue of the CIA assassination plot is overblown to the point of being almost implausible. Then again, when the film doesn’t have any more depth than “Bruce Willis can still kick your ass,” one shouldn’t expect too much. It’s fun. Let’s leave it at that. Overall, the film delivers the action-comedy in a way that hasn’t been seen since “True Lies.”
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: See it. With a large popcorn.
TWO AND A HALF STARS out of four.
Directed by Robert Schwentke. Written by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Warren Ellis, and Cully Hamner
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 51 min