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Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren vehicle 'RED' brings in the disenfranchised from the cold

July 22, 2010|By Alex Pham | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

One of the reasons comic books captivate so many is their ability to allow ordinary people to hurtle themselves into an imaginary world of extraordinary possibilities.

Such is the magic of "RED," a 66-page graphic novel about Frank Moses, a former CIA black-ops agent who is thrown back into action after he becomes a marked man.

In the Hollywood version from Summit Entertainment set for release Oct. 15, Bruce Willis plays Moses as a retiree who lounges around the house in his bathrobe and has little more to look forward to than the next issue of the AARP magazine.

Willis' aging costars include Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman as former CIA colleagues. The group gets back together to fight the forces of evil -- a generation of young, smug-faced know-it-alls and all their fancy new gadgets.

"RED" producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told Comic-Con attendees that the movie was about "the way society discards people of every age. We all feel a little discarded or pushed aside. This is a movie where you get back in" the action.

The film, set as an action comedy, departs from the graphic novel, which is much darker in nature. The decision appears designed to take advantage of Willis' deadpan delivery, sharpened in "Die Hard." Mirren, with her "Masterpiece Theater" demeanor, provides Willis with a refined counterpoint.

The transformation from literary noir to action comedy didn't tweak the novel's creators, Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, who appeared on the panel alongside Willis, Mirren and Karl Urban, who plays Willis' nemesis.

"It's an adaptation, not an imitation," Ellis said of the movie.

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