The big deal about ‘Red’

The big deal about ‘Red’

Hollywood’s latest marketing gimmick would appear to be making movies featuring yesterday’s (or the day before’s) action heroes. The Expendables is clearly an example of one such movie, although I must confess that I believe Jason Statham to be the best-big-thing-who-will-probably-never-be in action movies. Red, which should release in India soon, looks like a movie in the same mould. It has an all-star cast of Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Richard Dreyfuss.

That isn’t just a hunch. Red is actually based on a mini comic book series authored by Warren Ellis (think Transmetropolitan, featuring that most Gonzo of Gonzo journalists, Spider Jerusalem). It tells the story of Paul Moses, a retired black-ops operative who changes his status to “red" from “green" after the agency orders a hit on him. What follows is an exceptionally fast-paced and bloody comic book featuring some very graphic acts of violence (a doff of the hat to Cully Hamner, the illustrator). I read Red a few years ago and loved it, but I’d decided that it was one of those good comic books that would probably never get its due (like Sleeper or Human Target, although the second did spawn a TV series). That should change now. The movie will probably kindle some interest in the book, although I have no illusions—action movies based on comic books are rarely true to the original and, still worse, invariably have happy endings. Red’s ensemble cast is further proof of that.

On the trail: Paul Moses, a retired ops operative, is the hero of Red.

I was always a sucker for books with no loose ends.

R. Sukumar is editor, Mint.

Write to him at