At the Movies: Red, Nowhere Boy

No, I did not see “Jackass 3D.” I have seen enough “Jackass” in two dimensions, I don’t need to see it in the third. Just thinking about what Johnny Knoxville and Co. might have planned to thrust out into the audience in 3D gives me the willies.

Red

I’ve got by in life pretty well by following one simple rule: Don’t mess with assassins. I’ve now extended that rule to include retired assassins. Especially those that are Code RED (Retired, Extremely Dangerous).

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) leads a quiet, one might say boring, life in retirement. The highlight of his days are the phone calls he makes to Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), a woman he has never met who handles his pension checks.

One day the monotony breaks in a big way when a black ops team shows up to kill Frank. Frank is the last man standing, of course, and he rushes off to check on Sarah, his one friend. Sarah has no idea what she’s gotten herself into, but soon the two of them are on the run from more killers.

It seems someone wants to take out Frank and his fellow ex-CIA agents who were involved in a secret mission several years earlier. Frank wants answers, but first he has to put the band back together.

First up is Joe (Morgan Freeman), who is waiting to die in a nursing home. Next is the paranoid and somewhat crazy Marvin (John Malkovich). The final player is Victoria (Helen Mirren), who is enjoying a more upper-class retirement than her former partners, but who hasn’t forgotten how to fire a sniper rifle.

Frank and the gang will have to break into CIA headquarters to learn the truth, but dealing with the truth will be even more challenging.

Based on the comic book series by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, “Red” is an absurd action comedy. It has a wonderful cast, nifty action sequences and a fun sense of style.

Did it work for me? Who doesn’t want to see Helen Mirren shoot stuff up?

Nowhere Boy

If I had the strength, I would (Sgt.) pepper this review with 910 Beatles references. Really (Maxwell’s Silver) hammer the point home. Imagine how clever that would be.

But I’m so tired, so I’ll leave that to all the other reviewers.

“Nowhere Boy” chronicles the teenage years of John Lennon and his unusual upbringing. As the film opens, young John (Aaron Johnson) is living a happy life with his boisterous Uncle George (David Threlfall) and his quiet Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas).

When George dies, John and Mimi are left to fend for themselves. Emotionally repressed, Mimi can’t give John the affection he needs, so he turns to his more outgoing mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), who lives within walking distance.

Not much of a student, John decides he’ll grow up to be the next Elvis Presley. Julia encourages his interest in music, teaching him to play banjo. Mimi isn’t as enthusiastic, but she does buy him his first guitar.

John forms a band and soon they’re performing on the back of a flatbed truck. After one show, John is introduced to another young musician — Paul McCartney (Thomas Brodie Sangster). And the rest, as they say, is musical history.

But “Nowhere Boy” isn’t the story of the Beatles, it’s the story of John, Mimi and Julia and how they, er, come together. It’s a fine film — low-key but heartfelt. Aaron Johnson puts in a strong showing as Lennon but it’s Kristin Scott Thomas who gives the standout performance.

Did it work for me? Yes it is. (Sorry, close as I could come)

 

 

 

 

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