RED - an acronym standing for Retired, Extremely Dangerous - is the latest comic book/graphic novel adaption to hit the screen this summer and it offers it's own lesson on how they can go wrong; this time when you go too far down the "tell your own story" road from the source material. In taking little more than the title and opening act of the book it's based on, the end result is yet another ensemble action flick that throws the remainder of the book under a bus and backs over it a few times in the process of hitting every stock "conspiracy plot" trope instead.
To a certain degree, this is justifiable because the source material is probably too bloody - and short - to get made with anywhere near the level of star power in the film. But, the unfortunate side effect is that the more original plot found in the book - fresh CIA Director gets shown retired former operative's file before he's properly settled into the job as an orientation joke by his agency handler then orders the man's erasure from the Earth in a panicked fit of outrage because: "we don't do that here, and the public can never know", followed by the operative's rampage of revenge in response to the violent interruption of his peaceful retirement - is lost entirely; most likely because it went so far past the anti-hero line in the process that it was deemed unbelievable and the "hero" remorselessly killing CIA officers not likely to evoke much sympathy from the audience.
So, instead what we have here is a rather average conspiracy comedy/action flick where a lot of the rough edges on our hero are purposely filed off to make him more aloof than threatening for the majority of the film - there's really only one spot in the film where just how evil a bastard he's been trained to be rolls out for the audience - with an all-star cast and story designed to pad the base idea out close to 2 hours. There's a few good jokes and action bits, but you've seen most of them in the trailer. It also has all the subtlety of a tank with regard to setting up it's twists and drags from time to time while giving you the feeling the script went through a few too many doctors in an effort to get screen time to the whole cast as the through-line gets a little messy in the sub-plots.
At the end of the day, you've seen this film before so only worth seeing if you get a woody at the thought of Helen Mirren firing a M-60. Otherwise, catch it on TV/Video someday.
Oh, one last thing, reviewers who use the term "slumming" WRT Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich doing a movie like this need to get a life.