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  • Writer's pictureRichard Irvine


By Michael Constantine


During the seemingly endless Covid-19 Lockdown - starved of my habitual outings to the local IMAX cinema complex - I have resorted to digging through our DVD shelves or commanding the ever-obedient Alexa to search Netflix to catch up on my favourite movies.

It’s reminded me that there are some movies that you can watch time after time and come

away smiling.

For me ‘RED’ (2010) and its sequel ‘RED 2’ (2013) fall squarely into that bracket.

Derived from the cult DC graphic novel (written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Cully Hammer,) the first movie brought together Academy Award winning actors Helen Mirrren, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich as a lethal team of retired CIA agents.

The sequel added more talent: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, David Thewlis

and Brian Cox.

If somehow you missed these escapist movie hits ($350 million at the box office alone), this is an ‘action comedy’ with the emphasis unashamedly on loud, vigorous, deadly action and dark, sardonic comedy.

What makes this so different to most regular action movies?

Well, with a couple of exceptions, the lead actors are all 55+.

Older, indeed.

But still heavily armed, still extremely dangerous and not to be underestimated - as their opponents discover to their cost.

“They retire us, but you can’t just flip a switch and become someone else… I just can’t stop”, laments Helen Mirren’s elegant character Rebecca.

Some have adjusted to retirement and some demonstrably have not.

They may be older, but they will be the ones to decide when to give it a rest.

“It’s important to enjoy life while you still can,” quips Rebecca darkly - as she pours acid into a hotel bath to dispose of her latest contract kill.

Whilst not the deepest, most philosophical story line, this is a cracking movie series.

It’s about highly-tuned professional skills and talents ((however lethal).

About loyalty and teamwork: “We’re getting the band back together”, says Morgan Freeman’s character (Joe).

But it demonstrates unequivocally that there’s no substitute for a lifetime of hard- earned experience.

Which brings me to another favourite.

Whilst also classified as a comedy-drama, this is a movie that couldn’t be further from the raw action, violence and drama of ‘RED’.

Literally, at the other end of the cinematographic spectrum is ’The Intern’ (2015).

This is the American ‘buddy-comedy-drama’ in which Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro), 70, widower and bored with retirement, answers a community outreach ad for a ‘senior intern’ at a booming online fashion company founded and run by Jules Ostin (Ann Hathaway).

Successfully landing the role and assigned first as intern then as driver to the CEO, Whitaker (De Niro) is initially ignored by the dynamic but troubled Jules.

Ben wins over his younger co-workers with his relaxed, unassuming, congenial style - becoming a father-figure offering good-humoured but smart guidance on relationships, work/life balance and even clothes-sense (somewhat ironic in a fashion house).

After a tricky start De Niro’s character forms an unlikely friendship with Jules, becoming a confidant for the company’s workaholic young CEO.

“It’s moments like this when you need someone you can count on”, admits Jules.

The film explores the intersection of technology and modern culture with old school business savvy and a lifetime of experiences.

“Look and learn boys, because this is what cool is!”, eventually quips Hathaway admiringly of De Niro’s Whitaker clad in his preferred business uniform of suit, tie and buttoned-down shirt.

The unorthodox chemistry which develops between the leading protagonists bridges generations and sexes.

It brings valuable perspective, fulfillment and renewed life to both characters in their own way.

Like the ‘RED’ movies, ’The Intern’ explores the essential benefits of hard-earned maturity and experience and its persistent value over time.

But at the end of the day - (movie-plot and psychological analysis apart) - this is essentially still an enjoyable, watchable comedy neatly delivering a useful life message.

As the movie poster headline claims: “Experience never goes out of fashion”.

Not surprising therefore that De Niro was nominated for ‘Best Actor in a Comedy’ (Critics’ Choice Movie Awards/Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards).

Or that ‘The Intern’ won the AARP Movies for Grownups Award.

(Who knew that existed…?).

The movie clearly also touched a nerve with cinema audiences, grossing US$195 million at the Box Office from a US$35 million production budget - generating an ROI of 5.57 times cost.

A really satisfying ‘Happy Ever After’ ending all round.

Smart marketers, those Hollywood folks…

Michael Constantine is CEO at A3A Agency for the Third Age

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