Red (2010 film)

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Red ver7.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Mark Vahradian
Screenplay by Jon Hoeber
Erich Hoeber
Based on Red 
by Warren Ellis
Cully Hamner
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography Florian Ballhaus
Edited by Thom Noble
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Release dates
  • September 29, 2010 (2010-09-29) (Austin Fantastic Fest)
  • October 15, 2010 (2010-10-15)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $58 million[1][2]
Box office $199 million[1]

Red (abbreviation for Retired, Extremely Dangerous) is a 2010 American action comedy film inspired by the limited comic book series of the same name created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner and published by the DC Comics imprint Homage. The film stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren and Karl Urban, with German film director Robert Schwentke directing a screenplay by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber. In the film version, the title is derived from the designation of former CIA Agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), meaning "Retired and Extremely Dangerous".

The film was released on October 15, 2010.[3] A sequel, Red 2, was released on July 19, 2013. Another sequel, Red 3, is in development.


Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a former black-ops CIA agent, is retired and living a quiet life in a Cleveland, Ohio, suburb. However, Frank is lonely and often chats on the phone with Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), a Customer Service Agent for the General Services Administration Pension Office in Kansas City, Missouri. He creates opportunities to talk to her by tearing up his pension checks and calling her to say they had never arrived.

His life is disrupted when a six-person wetwork squad raids his house in the middle of the night. Frank single-handedly kills the entire squad. Knowing they have tapped his phone, he goes to Kansas City to protect Sarah. Since she refuses to go with him, he binds and gags her with duct tape. She becomes Frank's reluctant companion while he tries to find out who is trying to kill him; and he tracks down his old associates for help. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is assigned by his boss, Cynthia Wilkes (Rebecca Pidgeon), to hunt down and kill Frank.

Frank first goes to New Orleans, Louisiana. After leaving Sarah bound and gagged in their motel room, he finds his terminally ill C.I.A. mentor, Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), living in a skilled nursing facility. Joe tells Frank that the same hit squad murdered a reporter for The New York Times. Meanwhile, Sarah manages to break free but is rescued by Frank when another agent, posing as a police officer, tries to kidnap her. Cooper attacks them, but Frank tricks the police, so that they arrest Cooper, which gives them time to escape. The two head to New York City and find clues left behind by the deceased reporter, which leads them to a hit list. They then track down Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), also a former black ops agent and a paranoid conspiracy theorist, to provide more information.

After reading the list, Marvin tells them that the names on the list are all connected to a 1981 secret mission in Guatemala in which Frank and Marvin participated, and that one person, Gabriel Singer (James Remar), is still alive. The trio tracks down Singer, who tells them that the mission involved extracting a person from a village. Singer is then assassinated by a helicopter-borne machine-gunner, and the team escapes as Cooper closes in. Frank goes to ex-Russian secret agent Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox), offering him a favor in exchange for his help in infiltrating CIA headquarters. Along with Sarah, Frank gets inside and the records keeper (Ernest Borgnine) – who has much respect for Frank – simply hands him the Guatemala file. Frank goes to confront Cooper in his office and the two have a vicious fight. Though Frank is victorious, he is shot during his escape. Having escaped an attempt on his life, Joe arrives and helps extract the team. They hide out in the home of former wetwork agent Victoria (Helen Mirren), who treats Frank's wound and joins the team.

After reviewing the file, all the team can figure out is that the only man on the reporter's list but not in the file is Alexander Dunning (Richard Dreyfuss). Joe masquerades as a dictator from an unnamed country and secures a meeting with Dunning, who is an illegal arms dealer. As Victoria waits outside with Sarah to keep watch, Dunning reveals under interrogation that the mission was to extract the now–Vice President Robert Stanton (Julian McMahon), who is trying to cover up the fact that he massacred village civilians. At that moment, Cooper and the FBI surround Dunning's mansion. Cooper tries to negotiate Frank's surrender, but Frank tells Cooper about the Vice President's treachery. Joe sacrifices himself by pretending to be Frank surrendering, and, as Joe exits the house, he is killed by an unknown sniper. The confusion, as well as Victoria's cover fire, buys the team enough time to escape, but Sarah falls down a slope and is captured. The rest of the team is rescued by Ivan, who is a former lover of Victoria. Frank calls Cooper from the Cooper family's home and threatens the family if Sarah is harmed.

The team, along with Ivan, infiltrate Stanton's fundraising gala in Chicago and successfully kidnap him despite Cooper's efforts to stop them. Frank calls Cooper and says he is willing to trade Stanton for Sarah. At the meeting point, Dunning arrives and after a short dialogue, shoots Stanton, revealing that he is the mastermind behind the assassinations and that Stanton has merely been a pawn. Cynthia Wilkes is also in on the plot. Disgusted with Dunning and Wilkes' greed and corruption, Cooper pretends to go along with handcuffing Frank. He suddenly shoots Wilkes while Marvin and Victoria kill Dunning's bodyguards, and Frank kills Dunning with a blow to the windpipe. Cooper agrees to let Frank and his team go and he is left to sort things out. As they leave the scene, Frank and Sarah are eager to start a new life together.

Ivan reminds Frank that he owes him a favor. A few months later, Frank and Marvin are in Moldova, fleeing from Moldovan Army troops with a stolen nuclear device, with Marvin wearing a dress and in a wooden wheelbarrow being pushed by Frank.



Gregory Noveck, a representative of DC Comics working in Hollywood to get their titles made into films, wanted the comic developed but Warner Brothers was not interested. The creators of the comic exercised their right to go elsewhere but this required approval from all divisions of Warner including television before it could be approved. After several years, in 2008 Noveck was allowed to take the project elsewhere, to Mark Vahradian at Di Bonaventura Productions. Unusually this made it the first film from DC not produced by Warner Bros., post-purchase.[11]

In June 2008, Summit Entertainment announced plans to adapt Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner's Red. Red was adapted for the big screen by brothers Erich and Jon Hoeber, who also wrote the adaptations of Whiteout and Alice. The project was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura (GI Joe, Transformers).[12]

By April 2009, Bruce Willis was reportedly in discussions with Summit to take the starring role of Frank Moses.[13] It was reported in July 2009 that Morgan Freeman was in talks to co-star alongside Bruce Willis in the film.[14] Also in July 2009, Robert Schwentke, the director of The Time Traveler's Wife and Flightplan, was in negotiations to direct Red.[15] In August 2009 Schwentke confirmed to MTV News that he was on board. He stated that he loved the script but there are differences between the comic and the movie stating; "It's very funny, which the comic book isn't ... It's not as violent as the comic book," and that "The script that I've read is obviously different from the comic, because I don't think the comic gives you enough for a two-hour movie."[4]

In November 2009, it was reported that Helen Mirren would work alongside Freeman and Willis in the film.[7] It was also reported in November 2009 that John C. Reilly and Mary-Louise Parker were in negotiations to join the cast. Reilly would play a retired CIA agent who is paranoid that everyone is out to kill him. Parker would play the romantic interest, a federal pension worker who becomes embroiled in the Willis character's struggle to stay alive.[16] In the same month Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss and Brian Cox entered negotiations to join the cast.[9]

In December 2009, creator Warren Ellis stated on his mailing list that "(I) Read the RED script. Not bad. Not the book, but not bad. Funny. Especially when you know the casting. Very tight piece of work. Talked to the producers last week. They're all kind of giddy over the casting coups. Who wouldn't want to see Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle?"[17] Also in December 2009 Summit Entertainment announced a release date of October 22, 2010.[18] The same month James Remar was cast in an unspecified role,[10] in addition to Karl Urban as "Cooper".[8] In January 2010 it was reported that John Malkovich had signed to star opposite Bruce Willis, replacing John C. Reilly, who exited the role in late December.[6]

Principal photography began on January 18, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. Red was shot in and around the Toronto metropolitan area for nine weeks before moving on to the road and ending in New Orleans in late March for the final two weeks of principal photography.[3] Filming in the French Quarter of New Orleans commenced in March 2010.[citation needed] Additional photography was shot for a post-credits scene in Louisiana in August 2010.[19]


Mirren and Willis at a panel for the film at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2010

A teaser trailer for Red was released in June 2010.[20] The first full trailer debuted in July 2010 at the San Diego Comic-Con International.[5] The film premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on October 11, 2010.[21][22] Red was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 25, 2011.[23]


Critical response[edit]

Red has a 72% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 193 reviews with an average rating of 6.4/10.[24] Metacritic gave the film a score of 61/100 based on a normalized rating of 37 reviews.[25] Justin Chang of Variety stated Red is "An amusing, light-footed caper about a team of aging CIA veterans rudely forced out of retirement".[26] John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter stated "Although tailor-made for genre fans, it benefits from flavors of humor and romance that keep its appeal from being fanboy-only".[27]

Conversely, Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, stating that it's "neither a good movie nor a bad one. It features actors that we like doing things we wish were more interesting."[28] A. O. Scott of the New York Times said, "It is possible to have a good time at RED, but it is not a very good movie. It doesn't really try to be, and given the present state of the Hollywood economy, this may be a wise choice".[29] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, "It's not that it doesn't have effective moments, it's that it doesn't have as many as it thinks it does. The film's inescapable air of glib self-satisfaction is not only largely unearned, it's downright irritating".[30]

Box office[edit]

On its opening weekend Red earned an estimated $22.5 million on around 4,100 screens at 3,255 locations, coming in second behind Jackass 3-D.[31] The film closed in theaters on February 3, 2011, grossing over $90 million in the United States and total of over $186.5 million worldwide.[1]


Award Category Nominee Result
68th Golden Globe Awards[32] Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated
Satellite Award[citation needed] Best Film Nominated
Best Actor - Motion Picture John Malkovich Nominated
Best Actress - Motion Picture Mary-Louise Parker Nominated


Main article: Red 2 (film)


  1. ^ a b c "RED (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2011. 
  2. ^ Fritz, Ben (October 14, 2010). "Movie Projector: Bruce Willis gunning for Johnny Knoxville as 'RED' opens against 'Jackass 3-D'". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved October 16, 2010. The studio spent about $60 million to make "RED" after tax credits 
  3. ^ a b c d "Red Begins Principal Photography". /Film. January 18, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "EXCLUSIVE: Robert Schwentke's 'Red' Adaptation To Be A 'Funny' Take On Warren Ellis' Story". MTV Splash Page. August 4, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Chavez, Kellvin (July 22, 2010). "SDCC 2010: New RED Trailer". Latino Review. Retrieved July 23, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "John Malkovich signs on for 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. January 10, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b "Casting Notes: Alan Cumming in Burlesque; Mirren Does Espionage; Dempsey Steals Laughs; Weaver and Shawkat Hit Cedar Rapids". /Film. November 4, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Rob M. Worley (December 21, 2009). "TREK Doc cast in RED". Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Julian McMahon sees 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 12, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010. [dead link]
  10. ^ a b Justin Kroll (December 14, 2009). "James Remar". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (October 13, 2010). "Secret Origin: How 'RED' escaped Warner Bros. and ended up at Summit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 29, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Warren Ellis’ Red and Ocean Headed to the Big Screen". /Film. June 12, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Bruce Willis is living hard". Risky Business. April 29, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Morgan Freeman Joins The Big Screen Adaptation of Warren Ellis’ Red". /Film. July 19, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Director closes in on 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. July 28, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010. [dead link]
  16. ^ "John C. Reilly, Mary-Louise Parker seeing 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 4, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010. [dead link]
  17. ^ Warren Ellis (November 30, 2009). "BAD SIGNAL Ungh". Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Red Gets 2010 Release Date". /Film. December 17, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Willis, Malkovich head south for quick 'Red' shoot (exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. August 19, 2010. Retrieved August 23, 2010. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Exclusive Teaser Trailer". Yahoo!. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  21. ^ "‘Red,’ LA Premiere". Access Hollywood. October 12, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Me and my girls: Bruce Willis proudly shows off his wife and eldest daughter Rumer on the red carpet of new film Red". Daily Mail. October 12, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011. 
  23. ^ "RED - Official Movie Website". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Red Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Red (2010): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  26. ^ Chang, Justin (September 29, 2010). "Red". Variety. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  27. ^ John DeFore (September 29, 2010). "Red -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  28. ^ Roger Ebert (October 13, 2010). "Red". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved October 14, 2010. 
  29. ^ A. O. Scott (October 14, 2010). "Who Ya Callin’ Gramps, Junior?". New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  30. ^ Kenneth Turan (October 15, 2010). "Movie review: 'Red'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  31. ^ Gray, Brandon (October 17, 2010). "'Jackass' Crashes Into Fall Record". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  32. ^ "The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards NOMINATIONS | OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the HFPA and the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS". December 14, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]