Bruce Willis Will Make You Laugh And Gasp In This Comic Book Thriller

By Kevin C. Neece | Published


The 2010 Bruce Willis action comedy RED is streaming now on Hulu. Based on a comic book limited series of the same name, the film follows retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Willis) after his quiet retirement is interrupted by an attempt on his life.

RED is one of the best movies to come from the latter half of Bruce Willis’ career, combining action with comedy to be a box office success.

After the attack from a high-tech assassin, Moses teams up with his former fellow agents, played by Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman, and sets out to discover the identity of his assailants and ensure his own safety. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper (Karl Urban) is assigned to track down and kill Moses.

Bruce Willis was a perfect casting choice to play Paul Moses, the gruff, dome-headed tough guy at the center of the original RED comic book series. Written by Warren Ellis and featuring art by Cully Hamner, the books were published by DC‘s WildStorm imprint, Homage Comics, from September 2003 to February 2004. When Warner Bros., which distributes other DC films and now the DCU, passed on the project, Summit Entertainment purchased the cinematic rights to the property in 2008.

Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker in RED

Before Bruce Willis became involved, Summit hired Erich and Jon Hoeber, who co-wrote Whiteout, to adapt the comics for a film. Robert Schwentke, director of Flightplan and The Time Traveler’s Wife, was chosen to take the helm, with Transformers producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian taking producing duties. It was decided that the movie should deviate from the original comic books fairly early on in the process, in no small part because there wasn’t enough story material in the three issues for a feature film.

The original RED comic series is much darker then the comedic film, which benefits from Bruce Willis’ ability to easily blend the two genres.

Perhaps the casting of Bruce Willis, who was known as a comedic actor on Moonlighting before breaking into action with Die Hard, inspired the shift to an action comedy sensibility rather than the hard-edged seriousness of the source material. Or perhaps that decision only further made Willis an excellent choice for the role. Whatever the case, bringing Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman on board helped to play into the seriocomic nature of the story, with neither of them being among the usual suspects for comedy.

Bruce Willis certainly brought star power to the project, as did his costars. In 2009, the comic’s original writer Warren Ellis referred to the “casting coup” about which the producers were “giddy,” asking who wouldn’t want to see “Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle.” He also noted that he thought the script was “funny” and “very tight,” adding that it was not the same as his original work, but “not bad.”

Production began in Toronto, Canada, on January 18, 2010, with Bruce Willis and the cast, including Mary-Louise Parker, shooting in and around Toronto metropolitan for a total of nine weeks. Production then traveled to New Orleans for two weeks, filming in the French Quarter during March of 2010. After some shots were completed in August for a post-credits scene, production wrapped.


In October, the Bruce Willis-led film opened at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Its first weekend garnered over $22 million in gross receipts, following just behind the number one film, Jackass 3-D. Overall, the film made $199 million worldwide, with reviews saying it outshone many other big-budget films and audiences, giving it an over 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

RED was a hit and spwaned a sequel in 2013 that brought back Bruce Willis, while adding Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins to the cast.

It was enough to bring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren. John Malkovich, and Mary-Louise Parker back for a sequel in 2013. The film also featured Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, and Anthony Hopkins and was again written by Jon and Erich Hoeber. It was directed by Dean Perisot, who won an Academy Award for his 1988 short film, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings.

With Bruce Willis now actually retired, it’s great to look back on a film that shows him coming out of retirement and doing the sort of action comedy he was great at, along with a stellar cast of high-caliber actors who are now wielding high-caliber weapons. If you enjoy fun, funny, action thrill rides, are a fan of Bruce Willis, or just want to see Dame Helen Mirren trade in Shakespeare for shooting, this movie will be an enjoyable way to spend an evening. And you may even want to follow it with the star-studded sequel, just for more explosive fun with retirement-age folks.

RED and RED 2 are both streaming on Hulu right now.