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Gerontology Quiz as Movie Review: RED

Quick quiz: Rank these actors, from oldest to youngest:

By completing this test, you’ll also be self-reviewing the movie RED, which we saw last night.  If it gives you joy to contemplate these actors and wonder when they were born, you’ll enjoy this movie and its silly, good-natured and totally impossible action hokum. 

If any of those names makes you say “Who?” then you can safely skip the movie.

Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren at the UK premiere
of RED at Royal Festival Hall earlier this month

As with any good statistical model, we’ve tossed out the highest and lowest values — Ernest Borgnine (age 93!) and Mary-Louise Parker (age 46).  Borgnine isn’t given much to do in RED, but looks tremendously chipper for someone born while the outcome of World War I was still in doubt. 

Parker, on the other hand, looks so fresh that my niece, who saw the movie with me, complained about Hollywood once again matching up a sweet young thing with an old goat.  That old goat is Willis, which is bad news for him.  But it’s good news for Parker.  Let’s face it, she’s wonderfully hawt.  When we looked up her true age on Who2 later, my niece agreed that the pairing was OK after all.

Again, if you enjoy that kind of speculation, this movie is for you!

The name RED is a sorry choice for a Hollywood title, yes. We’re told during the movie that it is CIA-speak for “Retired and Extremely Dangerous,” which is cute but makes no more sense in the movie than it does on the printed page. HELEN MIRREN SHOOTING A BIG MACHINE GUN would have been a more exciting (and accurate) title, and might have brought in a few stragglers from the fetish set as well as the silver-haired crowd we saw this with last night.

Ready for the answers?

  • Morgan Freeman (age 73, b. 1937)
  • Helen Mirren (age 65, b. 1945)
  • Richard Dreyfuss (age 62, b. 1947)
  • John Malkovich (age 56, b. 1953)
  • Bruce Willis (age 55, b. 1955)

So Morgan Freeman is the oldest player by eight years. John Malkovich looks the oldest, by far, perhaps because he’s playing a wild-eyed crazy. He seems to be having fun — but then, they all do, which is the best and worst thing about the film.

RED held my attention and gave me a few good laughs, so I must give it a rating of 7 explosive tear gas canisters out of a possible 11.  

(Also, while you’re at RED and wondering where you’ve seen that young CIA agent before: he played Dr. McCoy in last year’s Star Trek remake.)

Now see photos of Helen Mirren without a machine gun >>


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