Apart from Bruce Willis nobody in this film is really associated with action. Yes Malkovich was in Con Air, Freeman in Robin Hood, Mirren was in one of the National Treasure movies and Brian Cox was in an X-Men movie but the likes of Stallone and Lundgren these are not.
What this movie is, is a relaxed action comedy with big name stars having a whale of a time running around playing super spies embroiled in an easy to understand plot, directed superbly, with a few good surprises and hardly any disappointments. If you saw the trailer and thought, hmmm that looks like a bit of fun on a cold Saturday afternoon, then you'd be right. It doesn't challenge, amaze or go over any particularly original turf but it doesn't over stay its welcome, doesn't attempt to be too smart arse, wrings plenty of laughs out of its situation, has a couple of pretty good set pieces and includes Dame Helen Mirren in a pristine white evening gown firing off round after round on a huge tripod mounted machine gun and looking right at home. What more could a happy-go-lucky cinema goer want?
The script is good and it rattles on at a pace, hopping all over the picture postcard version of the United States (literally, actually, in the use of nifty title cards) which is precisely what I want from an ensemble action comedy. So it's a, let's get the old gang back for one last fight movie where, at the end of it, you wouldn't mind them getting back together for yet another last fight, if the box office so allows.
The only weak link in all of it is, surprisingly, Bruce Willis. What's happened to him? where did his sense of humour go? It's like it left with his hair. Weirdly, despite being the main action hero guy, the central character and the anchor for the whole film, he doesn't exactly do a ton of action, apart from a pretty impressive hand to hand bit of business in an office which is very cool, his charisma, effort and style seems to be sitting this and many of his other recent films out on the bench and watching his performance makes you wonder if the Willis of Moonlighting, Die Hard and Twelve Monkeys will ever return. I think someone has spent too long getting his own way and if there's an actor on the planet who needs to realise his ideas aren't very good and he should probably shut his trap and get on with the job of being Bruce Willis then it's Bruce Willis. If you want to see what I mean watch Gilliam debate him on the set of Twelve Monkeys in the Hamster Factor. Listen Willis, no one is interested in your pushy attitude and coming on all bald with people, all we want is you shooting people in a vest while tossing out one liners like a stand up at a gun fight.
Also, apart from the inevitable bit when she gets kidnapped and needs saving, the whole sub-plot about Willis and Louise-Parker's burgeoning attraction for each other is utterly irrelevant and unnecessary. I know the studio want her in there so there's some sort of love interest to keep the women happy and also to have her as a naive audience substitute where we are meant to see this crazy world through her eyes and have a character we can latch on to and go through the film with but when are they going to realise that the audience for this film have seen it a hundred times over and don't need someone for Bruce Willis to explain obvious things to, we know Malkovitch is the wacky, damaged ex-spy who has mental conspiracy theories we don't need dialogue of Bruce telling his girlfriend that. We get it.
All that said though, it made me laugh, it made me cheer and the actors, all except Bruce, look like they are enjoying it all immensely. Does exactly what it says on the tin, bring on the sequel.
6.5 out of 10 mashed potatoes and gravy (comfort food for comfort viewing)
Points from the Wife - 7 out of 10 mashed potatoes and gravy