Red (2010 film)

Red is a 2010 American action comedy film loosely inspired by the Homage 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.

Red ver7.jpg
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 date
  • September 29, 2010 (2010-09-29) (Austin 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[2]

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, was in development in 2013 but did not appear.[4]


Frank Moses (Willis), a former black-ops CIA agent who is now in RED (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) status, lives alone in Cleveland. Lonely, Frank creates opportunities to talk to Sarah Ross (Parker), a worker at the General Services Administration's pension office in Kansas City, by tearing up his pension checks and calling to say they have not arrived.

One night, an assassination squad raids Frank's house and attempts to kill him but he easily eliminates them all. Knowing they will have tapped his phone, he believes Sarah will be targeted. In Kansas City Sarah refuses to go with him so he kidnaps her. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper (Urban) is assigned by his corrupt boss Cynthia Wilkes (Pidgeon) to hunt down and kill Frank.

To find out who is targeting him, Frank tracks down some of his old associates for help. He goes to New Orleans, Louisiana, and visits his CIA mentor Joe Matheson (Freeman), who tells him the same hit squad murdered a New York Times reporter. An agent posing as a police officer tries to abduct Sarah but Frank returns in time. Cooper chases them but Frank tricks the police into arresting Cooper and escapes with Sarah. The two head to New York City and find clues left by the reporter which lead them to a hit list.

They find Marvin Boggs (Malkovich), another old associate now excessively paranoid, who tells them that the people on the list, including Frank and Marvin, are connected to a secret 1981 mission in Guatemala. A pilot on the list, Gabriel Singer (Remar), tells them the mission involved extracting a person from a Guatemalan village. Singer is shot by a helicopter-borne machine-gunner and the team escapes as Cooper closes in.

Ex-Russian secret agent Ivan Simanov (Cox), in return for a favor, helps Frank infiltrate the CIA headquarters archive. Henry, the records keeper (Borgnine), has much respect for Frank and simply hands him the Guatemala file, as well as informing Frank that Cooper had visited earlier to investigate Frank's past. Frank confronts Cooper in his office and the two fight. Frank is wounded, and Joe arrives to help extract the team. They hide out in the home of former wetwork agent Victoria Winslow (Mirren), who treats Frank's wound and joins the team.

The file leads them to Alexander Dunning (Dreyfuss), an arms trafficker. Joe poses as a buyer and enters Dunning's mansion with Frank and Marvin while Victoria and Sarah keep watch outside. They interrogate Dunning, who tells them the target for extraction was Lieutenant Robert Stanton (McMahon), whose US Senator father organized the extraction via Dunning. The younger Stanton is now Vice President and has ordered the assassination of all involved in the mission (other than Dunning) to hide the fact that he massacred village civilians.

The FBI surrounds 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 an unknown shooter. The confusion, as well as Victoria's cover fire, buys the team time to leave the mansion, extracted by Ivan, but Sarah is captured. Frank calls Cooper from Cooper's own family's home phone and warns him against harming Sarah.

The team kidnaps Stanton to trade for Sarah. Dunning arrives at the meeting point. Dunning injures Stanton, revealing himself and Wilkes to be behind the assassinations and that Stanton was never involved. Disgusted with Wilkes' corruption, Cooper pretends to arrest Frank but instead shoots Wilkes. Marvin and Victoria kill Dunning's bodyguards, and Frank kills Dunning by punching him in the throat. Cooper lets Frank's team go as Marvin shoots Dunning to make sure he's dead.

Ivan reminds Frank of his favor, in Moldova, which Sarah eagerly insists on coming along for. A few months later, Frank and Marvin are fleeing Moldovan troops with a stolen nuclear device.



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.[5]

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).[6]

By April 2009, Bruce Willis was reportedly in discussions with Summit to take the starring role of Frank Moses.[7] It was reported in July 2009 that Morgan Freeman was in talks to co-star alongside Willis in the film.[8] Also in July 2009, Robert Schwentke, the director of The Time Traveler's Wife and Flightplan, was in negotiations to direct Red.[9] 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."[10]

In November 2009, Helen Mirren was reported to be engaged to work alongside Freeman and Willis in the film.[11] 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.[12] In the same month, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, and Brian Cox entered negotiations to join the cast.[13]

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

Principal photography began on January 18, 2010, in Toronto, Canada.[19] 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.[19] Filming in the French Quarter of New Orleans commenced in March 2010.[20] Additional photography was shot for a post-credits scene in Louisiana in August 2010.[21]


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


A teaser trailer for Red was released on June 24, 2010.[22] The first full trailer debuted on July 22, 2010 at the San Diego Comic-Con International.[23]


The film premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on October 11, 2010.[24]

Home mediaEdit

Red was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 25, 2011.[25] The film was released by Summit Entertainment in the US and Entertainment One in the UK.[26]


Box officeEdit

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 over $90 million in the United States and $108.6 million in foreign markets. The film received an overall gross of $199 million worldwide.[2]

Critical responseEdit

Red has a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 212 reviews and an average rating of 6.40/10. 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."[28] Metacritic gave the film a score of 60/100 based on a normalized rating of 38 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. ^ a b c "RED (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  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. ^ Red 3 in the Works at Summit (Exclusive). (2013-05-17). Retrieved on 2017-04-02.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "Bruce Willis is living hard". Risky Business. April 29, 2009. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
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  9. ^ "Director closes in on 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. July 28, 2009. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Julian McMahon sees 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. November 12, 2009. Archived from the original on February 26, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  14. ^ Warren Ellis (November 30, 2009). "BAD SIGNAL Ungh". Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  15. ^ "Red Gets 2010 Release Date". /Film. December 17, 2009. Archived from the original on May 23, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  16. ^ Justin Kroll (December 14, 2009). "James Remar". Variety. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  17. ^ Rob M. Worley (December 21, 2009). "TREK Doc cast in RED". Archived from the original on December 24, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  18. ^ "John Malkovich signs on for 'Red'". The Hollywood Reporter. January 10, 2010. Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  19. ^ a b "Red Begins Principal Photography". /Film. January 18, 2010. Archived from the original on September 14, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  20. ^ "Bruce Willis begins shooting "Red"". April 23, 2010. Archived from the original on April 23, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ "Exclusive Teaser Trailer". Yahoo!. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  23. ^ Chavez, Kellvin (July 22, 2010). "SDCC 2010: New RED Trailer". Latino Review. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  24. ^ "'Red,' LA Premiere". Access Hollywood. October 12, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  25. ^ "RED - Official Movie Website". Archived from the original on January 28, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  26. ^ "RED | British Board of Film Classification". Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  27. ^ Gray, Brandon (October 17, 2010). "'Jackass' Crashes Into Fall Record". Box Office Mojo. 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". 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". December 14, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
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  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.

External linksEdit