Red (2010 film)

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Red ver7.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Produced by
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 date
  • 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 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 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), meaning "Retired, Extremely Dangerous".

The film was released on October 15, 2010. It grossed $199 million worldwide. In 2011, the film received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Musical or Comedy Film. A sequel, Red 2, was released on July 19, 2013. Another sequel, Red 3, is in development.[3]


Frank Moses, retired black-ops CIA agent, lives alone in Cleveland, Ohio. Lonely, Frank often chats on the phone with Sarah Ross, a worker at the General Services Administration's 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.

One night, a "wetwork" (assassination) squad raids Frank's house and attempts to kill him, but he easily wipes them out. Knowing they have tapped his phone, he believes Sarah will be targeted. In Kansas City, as Sarah refuses to go with him, he forcibly ties her up and gags her with duct tape. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper is assigned by his boss, Cynthia Wilkes, to hunt down and kill Frank.

To find out who is targeting him, Frank tracks down his old associates for help. He goes to New Orleans, Louisiana, and visits his CIA mentor, Joe Matheson, who now lives in a nursing home suffering from stage four liver cancer. Joe tells Frank that the same hit squad murdered a reporter for The New York Times. Locked in a motel by Frank, Sarah escapes. Another agent, posing as a police officer, tries to kidnap her, but Frank returns in time. Cooper attacks them, but Frank tricks the police into arresting Cooper and escapes with Sarah. 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 find Marvin Boggs, another former black-ops agent and a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Marvin tells them the people on the list, including Frank and Marvin, are connected to a secret 1981 mission in Guatemala. Another person on the list, Gabriel Singer, 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, who helps him infiltrate CIA headquarters. In the CIA archive, Henry, the records keeper, who has much respect for Frank, simply hands him the Guatemala file. Frank confronts Cooper in his office and the two have a vicious fight. Though victorious, Frank 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 (Mirren), who treats Frank's wound and joins the team.

The file gives them clue to the next lead, Alexander Dunning, an illegal arms dealer. Frank, Marvin and Joe enter Dunning's mansion, with Joe posing as a buyer from Djibouti, while Victoria and Sarah keep watch outside. They interrogate Dunning, who reveals the target for extraction was the now–Vice President Robert Stanton (Julian McMahon), a Lieutenant in the United States Army at the time whose Senator father was able to organise his extraction from the field via Dunning. Stanton ordered the hit on the people involved in the mission to hide the fact that he massacred village civilians.

Cooper and the FBI surround Dunning's mansion. Cooper tries to negotiate Frank's surrender, and Frank tells him about the Vice President's treachery. The terminally ill Joe pretends to be Frank, walks outside, and is killed by sniper from the Vice President's personal hit squad. The confusion, as well as Victoria's cover fire, buys the team enough time to leave the mansion, but Sarah is captured. They escape with the help of Ivan, who is Victoria's old flame. Frank calls Cooper from his family's phone and warns him against harming Sarah.

The team, along with Ivan, kidnaps Stanton. Frank calls Cooper, offering to trade Stanton for Sarah. At the meeting point, Dunning arrives. After a short dialogue, Dunning injures Stanton, revealing himself and Cynthia Wilkes to be the masterminds behind the assassinations and that Stanton was never involved. Disgusted with Wilkes' corruption, Cooper pretends to arrest Frank, but shoots and kills Wilkes. Marvin and Victoria kill Dunning's bodyguards, and Frank kills Dunning by crushing his windpipe. Cooper lets Frank's team go. As they leave the scene, Frank and Sarah are eager to start a new life together.

Ivan reminds Frank of his favor. A few months later, Frank and Marvin are in Moldova with a stolen nuclear device. They flee from Moldovan Army troops 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 Bros. was not interested. The creators of the comic exercised their right to go elsewhere, but this required approval from all divisions of Warner Bros., including television, before it could be approved. After several years, in 2008, Noveck was allowed to take the project to Mark Vahradian at Di Bonaventura Productions. Unusually, this made it the first film from DC not produced by Warner Bros., after the purchase.[12]

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).[13]

By April 2009, Bruce Willis was reportedly in discussions with Summit to take the starring role of Frank Moses.[14] It was reported in July 2009 that Morgan Freeman was in talks to co-star alongside Willis in the film.[15] Also in July 2009, Robert Schwentke, the director of The Time Traveler's Wife and Flightplan, was in negotiations to direct Red.[16] In August 2009, Schwentke confirmed to MTV News that he was on board. He stated that he loved the script, but differences existed 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 "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."[5]

In November 2009, Helen Mirren was reported to work alongside Freeman and Willis in the film.[8] Also in November 2009, 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.[17] In the same month, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, and Brian Cox entered negotiations to join the cast.[10]

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?"[18] Also in December 2009 Summit Entertainment announced a release date of October 22, 2010.[19] The same month, James Remar was cast in an unspecified role,[11] in addition to Karl Urban as "Cooper".[9] In January 2010, reportedly John Malkovich had signed to star opposite Bruce Willis, replacing John C. Reilly, who exited the role in late December.[7]

Principal photography began on January 18, 2010, in Toronto, Canada.[4] 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.[4] 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.[20]


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 24, 2010.[21] The first full trailer debuted in July 22, 2010 at the San Diego Comic-Con International.[6] The film premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on October 11, 2010.[22][23] Red was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 25, 2011.[24]


Critical response[edit]

Red has a 72% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 193 reviews and an average rating of 6.4/10. The consensus reads: "It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style."[25] Metacritic gave the film a score of 61/100 based on a normalized rating of 37 reviews.[26] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[27]

Justin Chang of Variety stated Red is "An amusing, light-footed caper about a team of aging CIA veterans rudely forced out of retirement".[28] 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".[29]

Conversely, Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, stating that it is "neither a good movie nor a bad one. It features actors that we like doing things we wish were more interesting."[30] 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".[31] 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".[32]

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.[33] The film closed in theaters on February 3, 2011, grossing over $90 million in the United States and $108.6 million in foreign markets. The film received an overall gross of $199 million worldwide.[1]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2010 IGN Summer Movie Award Best Comic Book Adaptation Red Nominated
Satellite Award Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical Red Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical Mary-Louise Parker Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical John Malkovich Nominated
2011 Golden Globe Award[34] Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Red Nominated
Movies for Grownups Award Breakthrough Achievement Helen Mirren Won
Best Comedy Red Nominated
EDA Female Focus Award Actress Defying Age and Ageism Helen Mirren Won
Best Female Action Star Helen Mirren Nominated
Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Film Industry Helen Mirren Nominated
Women's Image Award Helen Mirren Nominated
Artios Award Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Big Budget Feature - Comedy
  • Deborah Aquila
  • Tricia Wood
  • Craig Fincannon
  • Lisa Mae Fincannon
  • Robin D. Cook
Saturn Award Best Action or Adventure Film Red Nominated
Best Supporting Actor John Malkovich Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Helen Mirren Nominated
Critics' Choice Award Best Action Movie Red Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Morgan Freeman Nominated
Scream Award Best Thriller Red Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Helen Mirren Nominated
Best Ensemble Cast of Red Nominated
Fight Scene of the Year Red Nominated


The film's financial success surpassed producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura's expectations.[35][36] In October 2011, Summit Entertainment officially announced that Red 2 would be released on August 2, 2013, with Jon and Erich Hoeber rehired to write the screenplay.[37] In March 2013, the film's release date was moved from August 2, 2013 to July 19, 2013.[38] The sequel fared less well than its predecessor both critically and financially. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $148.1 million worldwide.


  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. ^ 'Red 3' in the Works at Summit (Exclusive). (2013-05-17). Retrieved on 2017-04-02.
  4. ^ a b c d "Red Begins Principal Photography". /Film. January 18, 2010. Archived from the original on September 14, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2010. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b c Chavez, Kellvin (July 22, 2010). "SDCC 2010: New RED Trailer". Latino Review. Retrieved July 23, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "John Malkovich signs on for 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. January 10, 2010. Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ a b Rob M. Worley (December 21, 2009). "TREK Doc cast in RED". Archived from the original on December 24, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Julian McMahon sees 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 12, 2009. Archived from the original on February 26, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Justin Kroll (December 14, 2009). "James Remar". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (October 13, 2010). "Secret Origin: How 'RED' escaped Warner Bros. and ended up at Summit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 29, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Warren Ellis' Red and Ocean Headed to the Big Screen". /Film. June 12, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Bruce Willis is living hard". Risky Business. April 29, 2009. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Morgan Freeman Joins The Big Screen Adaptation of Warren Ellis' Red". /Film. July 19, 2009. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Director closes in on 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. July 28, 2009. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  17. ^ "John C. Reilly, Mary-Louise Parker seeing 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 4, 2009. Archived from the original on November 8, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  18. ^ Warren Ellis (November 30, 2009). "BAD SIGNAL Ungh". Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Red Gets 2010 Release Date". /Film. December 17, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Willis, Malkovich head south for quick 'Red' shoot (exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. August 19, 2010. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 23, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Exclusive Teaser Trailer". Yahoo!. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  22. ^ "'Red,' LA Premiere". Access Hollywood. October 12, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011. 
  23. ^ "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. 
  24. ^ "RED - Official Movie Website". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Red Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  26. ^ "Red (2010): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  27. ^ "CinemaScore". 
  28. ^ Chang, Justin (September 29, 2010). "Red". Variety. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  29. ^ John DeFore (September 29, 2010). "Red -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  30. ^ Roger Ebert (October 13, 2010). "Red". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved October 14, 2010. 
  31. ^ A. O. Scott (October 14, 2010). "Who Ya Callin' Gramps, Junior?". New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  32. ^ Kenneth Turan (October 15, 2010). "Movie review: 'Red'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  33. ^ Gray, Brandon (October 17, 2010). "'Jackass' Crashes Into Fall Record". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  34. ^ "The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards NOMINATIONS | OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the HFPA and the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS". December 14, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  35. ^ Kit, Borys (2011-11-17). "Summit Pulls the Trigger on 'RED' Sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  36. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (January 26, 2011). "'RED' Sequel Confirmed, Screenwriters Returning". MTV News. Viacom. Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2011. 
  37. ^ Wigler, Josh (2011-10-26). "'Red 2' Targets August 2013 Release, Plot Revealed". MTV News. Viacom. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  38. ^ Lesnick, Silas (2013-03-11). "Summit Moves RED 2 Up to July 19". Superhero Hype. Archived from the original on 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 

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