Classiest. Comic. Book. Movie. Ever. Not the best. Not the worst. Just the classiest—Helen Mirren (and Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich) can spruce up any pulp. The original Warren Ellis comic—a straight-ahead tale about a retired Company hit man named Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) next on the CIA's to-do list—was bloody and humorless. Its big-screen counterpart, directed by Robert Schwentke, is all grins and giggles—a kid-friendly Kick-Ass ... or, let's be honest, an AARP-friendly Kick-Ass. (Holy shit, there's Ernest Borgnine as a character called The Records Keeper!). Less a story than a travelogue, Red's map to the finish line is pockmarked with the occasional explosion and a few drops of blood as Frank tries to figure out why he has rocketed to the top of the agency's hit list. It's an absolutely, thoroughly enjoyable time—a giddy mashup of every movie ever made in which a hired gun yanks at his holster for One Last Stand to kill the one who brung him in the first place. Frank hops from Cleveland to Kansas City to New Orleans to Florida to Virginia to get the old team back together again and get answers. It all ends in Chicago, where The Big Finish involves the vice-president, what may or may not be an assassination attempt featuring Mirren and a .50-caliber machine gun and John Malkovich sprinting down an alley at top speed with a Flavor Flav clock strapped to his chest.
Mirren. Machine gun. We are so there.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., Oct. 15. Rated PG-13. 111 minutes.