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Red (2010 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Schwentke
Written by
  • Jon Hoeber
  • Erich Hoeber
Based on
Produced by
CinematographyFlorian Ballhaus
Edited byThom Noble
Music byChristophe Beck
Distributed bySummit Entertainment[1]
Release dates
  • September 29, 2010 (2010-09-29) (Fantastic Fest)
  • October 15, 2010 (2010-10-15) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$58–60 million[2][3]
Box office$199 million[4]

Red is a 2010 American action comedy film loosely inspired by the DC Comics limited series of the same name. Produced by Di Bonaventura Pictures and distributed by Summit Entertainment, it is the first film in the Red series. Directed by Robert Schwentke and written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, it stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, and Mary-Louise Parker, alongside Rebecca Pidgeon, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, and James Remar. Red follows Frank Moses (Willis), a former black-ops agent who reunites with his old team to capture an assassin who has vowed to kill him.

The film was released on October 15, 2010. It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $199 million worldwide, and also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. A sequel, Red 2, was released on July 19, 2013. A third film was announced as in-development in 2013 but did not come to fruition.[5]


Former CIA black ops agent Frank Moses lives a quiet life in the suburbs, and frequently tears up his pension checks in order to talk to call center employee Sarah Ross, with whom he has fallen in love with over the phone. One day, an assassination squad attacks Frank at his home, but he single-handedly kills the entire squad. Frank travels to Missouri to rescue Sarah, resorting to kidnapping her when she refuses to come along with him. Meanwhile, young CIA agent William Cooper is tasked by his supervisor Cynthia Wilkes to kill Frank.

In New Orleans, Frank ties up Sarah in a motel room while he visits his former mentor Joe at a retirement home for help identifying the squad. Joe's intel reveals that the same squad murdered a New York Times reporter recently. Sarah gets loose and calls 9-1-1, accidentally alerting Cooper to her location. Frank saves her from one of Cooper's agents and the pair narrowly avoid Cooper in a car chase. In New York, they speak with the reporter's mother and find a list of names the reporter was investigating, including Frank's, almost all of whom recently died. Meanwhile, Joe's room is infiltrated by a hitman, leaving Frank devastated.

Frank and Sarah track down retired agent Marvin Boggs in Florida, whose name is on the list. He finds that all the names on the list were part of a series of killings in Guatemala in 1981 that they were a part of. The three track down pilot Gabriel Singer, who flew the mission, but he is killed by a sniper before he can give any valuable information. After they escape, Frank secures the help of retired FSB agent Ivan Simanov in exchange for a favor, and with Sarah infiltrates the Secure Records Vault at the CIA's headquarters in Virginia to obtain the Guatemala file. Frank runs into Cooper in his office and they fight; he dislocates Cooper's shoulder and Cooper shoots and wounds Frank. Frank and Sarah are picked up by Marvin and Joe, who survived the assassination. The four seek help from retired British assassin Victoria Winslow, who stitches Frank's wound and joins them as they decide to meet with Alexander Dunning, an arms dealer who is the only name left on the list still alive aside from Frank and Marvin.

Joe, Frank and Marvin interrogate Dunning at his home, where he reveals that the killings were ordered by the Vice President of the US, Robert Stanton, in order to cover up Stanton's mass killing of innocent villagers in Guatemala. Meanwhile, Cooper receives a tip that leads him to Dunning's mansion. Joe sacrifices his life to help Frank and Marvin escape. The two and Victoria are extracted by Ivan, but Sarah is captured by Cooper's men. Later, Frank breaks into Cooper's house and calls him, revealing that he intends to kill Stanton, and that if Sarah is harmed, he will kill Cooper's family as well. Finding the Guatemala file Frank left for him at his house, Cooper realizes that he is being used in the coverup and has himself assigned to Stanton's security detail.

The remaining group kidnaps Stanton from a fundraising dinner with the help of Ivan. Frank calls Cooper and arranges to trade Stanton for Sarah. Cooper arrives alone and Cynthia brings Sarah, as well as Dunning, who shoots Stanton and reveals himself and Cynthia to be behind the assassinations. He demands Frank drop his gun and orders Cooper to detain Frank, offering to make him CIA Director if he kills him and Sarah. Cooper instead gives Frank the keys to his handcuffs and kills Cynthia. Marvin and Victoria kill Dunning's bodyguards, and Frank and Marvin kill Dunning. Cooper then lets Frank and everyone else leave, staying behind to clean up after them and take care of the rest of the situation.

The group leaves in Ivan's car and Ivan cashes in his favor from Frank; an issue in Moldova. Sarah happily insists that she joins Frank on the mission. Frank and Marvin are then shown fleeing Moldovan troops with a stolen nuclear device.


  • Bruce Willis as Francis "Frank" Moses, a former CIA black ops agent. Moses is forced into retirement and tagged R.E.D. (Retired, Extremely Dangerous). He has trouble adjusting to civilian life and still longs for action.
  • Morgan Freeman as Joe Matheson, Frank's mentor at the CIA. Joe has terminal cancer and lives in a retirement community in Louisiana.
  • John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs, a retired CIA agent who was given LSD daily for years as part of illegal agency experiments. Marvin is extremely paranoid and convinced that the government is constantly trying to kill him.
  • Helen Mirren as Victoria "Vicky" Winslow, a retired MI6 assassin who now operates a B&B while still taking contracts on the side. She's a former lover of Ivan's, until she was contracted by MI6 to shoot him as a loyalty test, which she was able to accomplish without killing him.
  • Karl Urban as William Cooper, a CIA black ops agent who is tasked with killing Frank.
  • Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah Ross, a call center employee and Frank's love interest. She is stuck in a boring job and yearns to travel and have adventures.
  • Rebecca Pidgeon as Cynthia Wilkes, Cooper's corrupt supervisor at the CIA who is secretly in league with Alexander Dunning and uses Cooper to help Dunning cover up the VP's war crimes.
  • Brian Cox as Ivan Simanov (Russian: Иван Симанов), a retired FSB agent who works for the Russian embassy. He is still in love with Victoria even after she shot him in the chest.
  • Richard Dreyfuss as Alexander Dunning, an arms trafficker who uses his CIA connections to help the Vice President cover up his crimes.
  • Julian McMahon as Vice President Robert Stanton. Stanton intends to run for president and uses Alexander Dunning to cover up his war crimes.
  • Ernest Borgnine as Henry Britton, the CIA records keeper.
  • James Remar as Gabriel Singer, a retired Marine helicopter pilot who participated in the Guatemala coverup.


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.[6]

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).[7]

By April 2009, Bruce Willis was reportedly in discussions with Summit to take the starring role of Frank Moses.[8] It was reported in July 2009 that Morgan Freeman was in talks to co-star alongside Willis in the film.[9] Also in July 2009, Robert Schwentke, the director of The Time Traveler's Wife and Flightplan, was in negotiations to direct Red.[10] 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."[11]

In November 2009, Helen Mirren was reported to be engaged to work alongside Freeman and Willis in the film.[12] 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.[13] In the same month, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, and Brian Cox entered negotiations to join the cast.[14]

In December 2009, creator Warren Ellis stated on his mailing list: "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?"[15] Also in December 2009 Summit Entertainment announced a release date of October 22, 2010.[16] The same month, James Remar was cast in an unspecified role,[17] in addition to Karl Urban as "Cooper".[18] In January 2010, reportedly John Malkovich had signed to star opposite Bruce Willis, replacing John C. Reilly, who exited the role in late December.[19]

Principal photography began on January 18, 2010, in Toronto, Canada.[20] 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.[20] Filming in the French Quarter of New Orleans commenced in March 2010.[21] Additional photography was shot for a post-credits scene in Louisiana in August 2010.[22]


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

The film premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on October 11, 2010.[23] Red was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 25, 2011.[24] The film was released by Summit Entertainment in the US and Entertainment One in the UK.[25] Lionsgate Home Entertainment later released it on Ultra HD Blu-ray on September 5, 2017.[26]


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.[27] The film closed in theaters on February 3, 2011, grossing $90 million in the United States, and $108.6 million in foreign markets, for a worldwide gross of $199 million.[4]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 72% based on 213 reviews, with an average rating of 6.40/10. The site's critics 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."[28] Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 60 out of 100 based 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[30]

Justin Chang of Variety stated Red is "An amusing, light-footed caper about a team of aging CIA veterans rudely forced out of retirement".[31] 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".[32]

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."[33] 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".[34] 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".[35]


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[36] 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.[37][38] 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.[39] In March 2013, the film's release date was moved from August 2, 2013 to July 19, 2013.[40] The sequel fared worse than its predecessor both critically and financially. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $148.1 million worldwide.


  1. ^ a b "RED (2010)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Smith, Grady (July 21, 2013). "Box office report: The Conjuring spooks R.I.P.D. with $41 million". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 27, 2015. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  3. ^ Fritz, Ben (October 14, 2010). "Movie Projector: Bruce Willis gunning for Johnny Knoxville as 'RED' opens against 'Jackass 3-D'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 16, 2010. The studio spent about $60 million to make "RED" after tax credits
  4. ^ a b "RED (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  5. ^ [1]Red 3 in the Works at Summit (Exclusive). Hollywoodreporter.com (2013-05-17). Retrieved on 2017-04-02.
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (October 13, 2010). "Secret Origin: How 'RED' escaped Warner Bros. and ended up at Summit". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 14, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  7. ^ "Warren Ellis' Red and Ocean Headed to the Big Screen". /Film. June 12, 2008. Archived from the original on November 6, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  8. ^ "Bruce Willis is living hard". Risky Business. April 29, 2009. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Director closes in on 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. July 28, 2009. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Casting Notes: Alan Cumming in Burlesque; Mirren Does Espionage; Dempsey Steals Laughs; Weaver and Shawkat Hit Cedar Rapids". /Film. November 4, 2009. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "Julian McMahon sees 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 12, 2009. Archived from the original on February 26, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  15. ^ Warren Ellis (November 30, 2009). "BAD SIGNAL Ungh". Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  16. ^ "Red Gets 2010 Release Date". /Film. December 17, 2009. Archived from the original on May 23, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  17. ^ Justin Kroll (December 14, 2009). "James Remar". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  18. ^ Rob M. Worley (December 21, 2009). "TREK Doc cast in RED". mania.com. Archived from the original on December 24, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  19. ^ "John Malkovich signs on for 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. January 10, 2010. Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  20. ^ a b "Red Begins Principal Photography". /Film. January 18, 2010. Archived from the original on September 14, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  21. ^ "Bruce Willis begins shooting "Red"". April 23, 2010. Archived from the original on April 23, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ "'Red,' LA Premiere". Access Hollywood. October 12, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  24. ^ "RED - Official Movie Website". Red-themovie.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  25. ^ "RED | British Board of Film Classification". www.bbfc.co.uk. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  26. ^ RED and RED 2 4K Blu-ray, retrieved July 7, 2022
  27. ^ Gray, Brandon (October 17, 2010). "'Jackass' Crashes Into Fall Record". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  28. ^ "Red (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 15, 2021.
  29. ^ "Red (2010): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  30. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on July 22, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  31. ^ Chang, Justin (September 29, 2010). "Red". Variety. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  32. ^ John DeFore (September 29, 2010). "Red -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  33. ^ Roger Ebert (October 13, 2010). "Red". rogerebert.com. Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  34. ^ A. O. Scott (October 14, 2010). "Who Ya Callin' Gramps, Junior?". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  35. ^ Kenneth Turan (October 15, 2010). "Movie review: 'Red'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  36. ^ "The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards NOMINATIONS | OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the HFPA and the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS". Goldenglobes.org. December 14, 2010. Archived from the original on May 5, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  37. ^ Kit, Borys (November 17, 2011). "Summit Pulls the Trigger on 'RED' Sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  38. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (January 26, 2011). "'RED' Sequel Confirmed, Screenwriters Returning". MTV News. Viacom. Archived from the original on August 31, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
  39. ^ Wigler, Josh (October 26, 2011). "'Red 2' Targets August 2013 Release, Plot Revealed". MTV News. Viacom. Archived from the original on June 12, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  40. ^ Lesnick, Silas (March 11, 2013). "Summit Moves RED 2 Up to July 19". Superhero Hype. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved March 21, 2013.

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