Oct 18, 2010

[Movies] Red (2010)

Red (2010)When it comes to movies based on comic books, there are many schools of thought in terms of how this best should be done. I'm pretty sure I talked about how there are purists and those who want to see new things out of their favorite comic book heroes in the past. In this case, it's obvious this movie was more about creative freedom than just following the original story.

Adaptations are always like translations - merely approximations of the story as it was told in one medium more or less adapted to the other. It's never a perfect one-to-one relationship in any way - the end results will generally be equivalent but not necessarily perfect equal. Adapting anything well is a skill in itself - or maybe even more of an art. Despite the high risk of failure, Hollywood seems to repeatedly take this plunge over and over again since it appears to be the easier path in terms of creative expenditure.

I suppose it also depends on what kind of a goal you have in mind for such a venture. Are you trying to make a movie that might become an Oscar contender? Or are you just hoping to come up with something that makes lots of money at the box office? Okay, well that last goal was kind of silly, but you know what I mean.

Cover of "Red"Cover of RedRed is Robert Schwentke directed movie very loosely based on the Warren Ellis comic of the same name. It can best be classified as an action-comedy of sorts but even that may be a stretch at times.

At the center of the story is Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired black ops CIA agent who is living a simple life alone. His main source of joy in his boring life is the occasional call to a call center agent named Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who handles his pension account. But his peaceful life is disrupted when a wet works team tries to kill him in the middle of the night. Naturally he manages to kill all of his assailants - a testament to his skills.

He then proceeds to Kansas City to find Sarah, fearing she'll become a target due to his many phone calls with her. He ends up initially kidnapping her as he starts to contact his old team mates in order to get to the bottom of this mystery. At the same time, Cynthia Wilkes (Rebecca Wilkes) dispatches William Cooper (Karl Urban) to deal with Moses once and for all. The reasons behind this remain sketchy at first but this is fully revealed in the course of the movie.

The movie took many liberties with the original story of the comic series - the only thin they really have in common is a former CIA agent who finds himself targeted by assailants unknown. Not even the name of the protagonist is the same and the deviations continue on from there. But in this case, it wasn't a bad thing at all. It helped round out the story a lot more and made it truly viable as a feature-length movie.

So how can you find fault in the quirky cast of characters when they all work so well together? Bruce Willis is awesome as the charming elder tough guy who is able to switch between cold-hearted killer to awkward man in love. Joe (Morgan Freeman) is more than just the elderly advisor but is also a womanizer who is both crafty and somewhat endearing. Marvin (John Malkovich) is quirky, crazy and yet amazingly intense. And of course Victoria (Helen Mirren) is classy, motherly and ruthless.

Karl Urban looked pretty good in this movie (and so does Willis, actually). I guess his other movies were too focused on aging him or covering him in make-up. The true lesson about this movie is that he can look pretty damned good in a nice suit. Plus he did present an interesting foil to the RED team, although it's hard to beat the whole Bruce-Willis-getting-out-of-a-spinning-car scene regardless of what he managed in the movie. That was absolutely kickass!

The movie won't change your life nor will it win any Oscars for a thought-provoking plot or something like that. But at its core it's a highly entertaining movie - a great way to spend an afternoon with friends or family. The plot isn't too hard to follow and you just have to sit back, relax and enjoy the movie as it is (instead of what you expect or want it to be).

Red is an amazing example of how flexibility and diversity in creative interpretation of a work can lead to a damn good movie. It gets 4.5 unusual stuffed pigs out of a possible 5.



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