Last Night I went to see RED, the movie adaptation of Warren Ellis’ graphic novel of the same name. In RED retired CIA operative Frank Moses is forced back into action when the CIA realizes the only way to make sure the retiree keeps their secrets is to kill him. Frank Moses decides to get back at them for ruining his rest and launches a one man assault on the CIA. That’s what happens in the book, at least. The film? Well, the film bears very little resemblance to the original. In fact, they could have released the film, kept the Bruce Willis’s character’s name the same, and not called it RED and I am 95% sure that no one would have ever realized that it was based on a graphic novel. Heck, even if you’ve read RED you probably wouldn’t have realized it.
In the film, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a lonely CIA agent who tears up his pension checks so he has an excuse to call the agency and talk to a woman he is interested in (Mary-Louise Parker). When the CIA decides to whack him, he knows her life is in danger and rescues/kidnaps her, as he leaves town. Along the way, they assemble a bunch of retired CIA operatives that are friends of Frank Moses while dodging the attacks of upcoming and motivated CIA operative William Cooper (Karl Urban). Toss in some kind of conspiracy about the Vice-President committing an atrocity in Guatemala, a whole bunch of awesome shoot outs, explosions, and grenade launchers being shoved into stuffed pigs and you’ve got a laugh out loud movie, that knows exactly what it’s going for. It doesn’t take itself seriously and lets a bunch of great actors let loose.
Now, if you’ve read this description of the film and wondering what this has to do with the graphic novel, you’re not alone. In the graphic novel, which is completely humourless, Frank Moses is the target of a new CIA director who has deemed that Frank’s knowledge of past assassinations must be cleared and sends a team to kill him. Frank puts his gear on and kills everyone in his path on the way to the CIA. He kills people left and right while telling the new director that he really is a monster, but he was a monster for the government and he should have been left alone. The book ends with Frank Moses about to meet his maker. While the film bears very little resemblance to the book, it’s still an extremely good movie. Top notch acting by Willis, Freeman, Mirren, and Malkovich (is there anyone better at playing crazy?). It’s not high brow cinema but it does a great job of entertaining. Slick visuals and good writing make this much more enjoyable than the other big action flick of the summer; The Expendables.