Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
RED Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Well-cast action comedy is entertaining -- but very violent.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 41 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's message -- that senior citizens are still vibrant and useful -- is a worthwhile take-away in our youth-obsessed culture. Although there are some obvious conspiracy-theory messages about defense contractor firms and the government, overall the story is about retirees you wouldn't want to mess with. On the downside, the way that Frank and Sarah's relationship starts (with him drugging and abducting her -- with the goal being to rescue her) is pretty iffy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sarah trusts Frank enough to help him uncover the truth. Frank embarks on a fact-finding mission to clear his name and save himself and his friends from being murdered; another character selflessly agrees to sacrifice himself to ensure that the mission can go forward. Marvin overcomes his fears to join the RED team. 


Lots of violence and a high body count. Once the protagonist is first ambushed, barely a scene passes in which people aren't trying to kill or not be killed. People are shot to death, blown up (quite vividly), stabbed, hanged, and burned. Severed fingers are shown, and a couple of scenes include bloodied characters (especially when shot) and heavily bruised ones. Weapons include everything from everyday office supplies to rocket-propelled guns, and you'd probably need a military background to identify everything in between.


Hand-holding, a couple of passionate kisses and embraces, and one early scene in which a female character undresses down to her slip. One character stares at a woman's bottom. Two characters' romantic relationship begins when one ties the other up and drugs her as part of a rescue.


Words like "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole" are used infrequently; one "f--k." Also "hell," "damn," "ass," "goddamn," and "oh my God."


Mostly cars like Volvo and and the Chevy Tahoe, as well as an older Chevrolet sedan.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink socially and do shots of vodka in a couple of scenes. There's also a reference to the many years that Marvin was given LSD as part of a military experiment. One character drugs another as part of an abduction/rescue -- the drugged character makes a reference to feeling "high" when she wakes up.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while this graphic novel-based action comedy is rated PG-13, its violence -- which is comparable to movies like Casino Royale and The Bourne Identity (also PG-13s) definitely approaches R-rated levels of intensity. The action sequences may be accompanied by plenty of laughs, but the body count is high and the weapons military-grade. On the plus side, there's no overt sexuality, and the language is standard issue for the rating ("s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," etc.). Teens will also take away the positive message that senior citizens can still "kick butt"; it's good for kids to realize that the elderly aren't all meek and frail -- most of them had long (and in this case exciting) careers before they retired.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEthan R. May 25, 2021

An generic action/comedy movie with lots of guns and shooting

This movie has lots of action and shooting scenes, most of it is bloodless. There is some swearing throughout. Parents may have a problem with the main charac... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMac Attack September 1, 2015

RED Review - Brief

I think RED is a hilarious film that I have watched over and over. Has some mature themes so be mindful of who else is watching with you. I first watched this f... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byTom Cruise Fan February 20, 2016

"RED" movie review

"RED" is one of my favorite comedies ever. This is a very intelligent and heartfelt comedy about how age doesn't matter when it comes to certain... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDJ Ninja972 June 6, 2021

Incredibly entertaining film, awesome cast

The cast is definitely the best thing about this film, but there is also lots of great action mixed with some very funny scenes/dialogue. Marvin is easily the b... Continue reading

What's the story?

Retired black-ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) routinely calls into the government's pension office specifically to talk to customer-service rep Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who handles his account. Just as he's preparing to visit her, Frank is ambushed by a hit team -- but he goes to see her anyway, in case whoever's following him is onto her. He ends up having to tie her up to rescue her -- and then goes to his old friend/fellow agent, Joe (Morgan Freeman), for help. After uncovering a hit list of agents who all worked on a particularly sensitive op, Frank and Sarah enlist fellow retirees Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) to join their team of RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous) agents to track down the higher-ups who've ordered the killings. Meanwhile, they must also evade ambitious CIA agent Wiliam Cooper (Karl Urban), who's in charge of eliminating Moses and his crew.

Is it any good?

Willis and the gang are clearly having a blast playing off of each other. Parker has remarkable comic timing, infusing lines like "Well I was hoping you'd have hair" (to Willis) with a style that actresses half her age can't muster. Mirren is equally as delightful, lobbing zingers like "If you hurt him, I'll kill you and bury your body in the woods" so well that you don't know whether to cringe or laugh. And when Malkovich asks, "Can I kill him now?" it's like an impatient small child pleading for his dessert, and the resulting humor is infectious. The supporting cast does well, too. Brian Cox, one of those chameleonic actors who can play a Russian spy in Red as easily as King Lear, always adds value to an ensemble, and he doesn't disappoint. And Urban, who was Dr. McCoy in Star Trek, should be cast in action films more often. He's got a steely look and a powerful charisma that works whether he's straight-laced as in Red or bad-boy like The Bourne Supremacy. But he's the young 'un, and this movie definitely belongs to the over-55 actors, all of whom prove that with age comes a mastery of craft that, with the right script is, as Sarah would say, "awesome."

Unlike the rough-and-tumble stars of ensemble action movie The Expendables (which Willis graced with a small cameo), all of Willis' retired secret-op friends in RED are played by Academy Award winners or nominees. That makes a huge difference in the expectation and delivery of performances. It's unthinkable that Jason Statham or Dolph Lundgren would take on Shakespearean adaptations, but within context of this movie, Malkovich, Freeman, and even Mirren are all quite believable as government operatives who've spent their careers tracking down and assassinating people. How wonderful that a movie in which the youngest actor, Urban, is 38, and the oldest, Ernest Borgnine, is 93, could be so thrilling and funny that you never once miss the busty or hunky eye-candy that usually appears in action films.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Does the humor that accompanies it affect its impact? How does it compare to the violence in other action movies you've seen?

  • What are the movie's messages about romance, adventure, and loneliness? What do you think of the way that Frank and Sarah's relationship starts?

  • What major differences are there between Red and other action movies? Is it just the age of the cast?

  • How do the "retirees" defy stereotypes in this movie? Does it make you rethink how you treat senior citizens?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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