Now Red is another release from my favourite comic writer, Warren Ellis. Its story has led me into at least one mental exercise. I think Bruce Willis is a great choice to play the lead character. The problem, for me, comes in the form of the plot summary. To whit:
“Red” is the story of Frank Moses (Willis), a former black-ops CIA agent, who is now living a quiet life. That is, until the day a hi-tech assassin shows up intent on killing him. With his identity compromised and the life of the woman he cares for, Sarah (Parker), endangered, Frank reassembles his old team (Freeman, Malkovich and Mirren) in a last ditch effort to survive.
Okay, I’m not against changing stories to suit cinematic necessities, that’s kind of what adapting is all about, but this pretty much fucks up a few of the essential parts of what makes Red awesome.
1) “. . . the life of the woman he cares for, Sarah (Parker), endangered . . .” I think it’s a little more poignant that he doesn’t have anyone in his life. He exchanges correspondence with his niece in England, but that’s about it. Paul Moses (of the comics) seems too involved wrestling with the demons of his past to be able to establish anything but the most desultory of relationships with the outside world. This man was devastated by what his country demanded of him, but he paid the price–willingly. That’s what makes his homicidal reaction so believable and–to a degree–sympathetic.
2) “. . . reassembles his old team . . .” Paul Moses works alone. See above.
I mean, I’m thrilled with the possibility of seeing Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren working together on the screen, but this again takes something that was poignant into crass action flick territory. Now, I’m a huge fan of crass action flicks, I just think it’s a mistake to take something that works and start messing around with it, just because you can. There is nothing more cinematic about a team. In fact, what has been done by creating all these excess characters, is remove time that could be used to develop the Moses character.
But wait, the real kicker? From the article:
The story, . . . has been characterized by Schwentke as a funny take on the more serious source material.
Are you fucking kidding me? That’s like producing a remake of Hard-Boiled as a light-hearted romantic comedy. What is the fucking point?
In truth, the comic is pretty much stitched together scenes of violence, but I think the first issue provides enough background and character that what follows can be seen through its lens. And what I see is not what this plot summary relates.
So in the end, this movie is more like my own imaginings–an homage or reference to Red–rather than an adaptation. It’s trying to cash in on the name recognition (for what it is, which–with all due reference–can’t be that much) without keeping the essence of the story.And the essence of the story is not killing people. That totally misses the point.