Two of the most enjoyable movies out right now probably don’t need my recommendation for you to see them-but I’m going to supply it anyway. Red
and The Social Network are both vastly entertaining films with assured direction, witty scripts, and enough twists and turns to satisfy the moviegoer looking for a modicum of intelligence with his entertainment.
Robert Schwentke’s Red (based on the comic book series) is probably the bigger and most welcome surprise. A retired agent (a loose, funny, believable Bruce Willis) who passes the time chatting on the phone with a customer service rep (an engaging Mary-Louise Parker) finds himself a most wanted man for reasons unknown—at least at first…
However, facing down these killers helps rejuvenate him, in a way (and his involving the lovely Miss Parker doesn’t slow him down any), and he decided to round up his old team when he realizes they too are in danger. That the team consists of cancer-stricken Morgan Freeman, an exhilaratingly (and endearingly) off the wall John Malkovich, and the refined yet deadly Helen Mirren (toting all kinds of weaponry) should be reason enough to get thee to a multiplex. Toss in Ernest Borgnine as a helpful government worker (I know….it seems like an oxymoron), Richard Dreyfuss as a shady industrialist and Brian Cox as a Russian agent who is cultivating a “thing” for Dame Helen and you have a thrill-packed caper with a soupcon of appealing romance and a whole lot of good-natured banter.
There is plenty of wit on display in Aaron Sorkin’s script for David Fincher’s The Social Network and the wonder of this movie is how entertaining and involving it is, given the antisocial, insufferably intelligent nature of its lead character, a certain Mark Zuckerberg who went on to become the founder of Facebook. Jesse Eisenberg is exceptional as Zuckerberg, who, in the framing device, is being sued by various individuals who claim he cheated them out of their rightful financial position in the Facebook pantheon. One in particular, Eduardo, ( a very sympathetic, appealing portrayal from Andrew Garfield) is presented as being Zuckerberg’s only friend…and the one who suffered the biggest betrayal when Facebook hit it big. The film doesn’t purport to depict the facts; rather it presents a fast-paced version culled from some available accounts (definitely not Zuckerberg’s) and the creativity of its makers. (The first scene, by the way, which depicts a date that goes badly, is a small masterpiece in revealing character, particularly the way some incredibly intelligent people can lack any and all social graces). What you get is a driven Zuckerberg who, for various reasons (spite, acceptance) is willing to do whatever it takes, in his own quiet way, to get what he wants. It may not be the Zuckerberg that is, but I suspect it might be the Zuckerberg we imagine him to be. You also get a Sean Parker ( Justin Timberlake) who is kind of like the Snake in the Garden of Palo Alto, and is presented as playing no small role in the events that lead to Eduardo’s ouster. And let me not forget the Winklevoss twins, (both played by Arnie Hammer),athletic, imposing members of Harvard’s elite who wished to utilize Zuckerberg’s skills—and wound up being definitively used by him. If people continue to flock to this film, and I suspect they will, it’s because of the fine performances and exceptional storytelling (in short supply, this summer) that keep you riveted and entertained every step of the way.