2 November 2010

RED

RED is a triumphant addition to the rapidly growing list of films based on comics.

And it comes with some serious pedigree, the original comic was written by Warren Ellis and the film's stars include Bruce Willis and John Malkovich.

Last Saturday I helped myself to a double-dose of RED by watching the film then reading the comic. It was not a strategic decision to do things in that order it's just that I was not able to buy the comic any earlier.

About fifty of us crammed into one of the small theatres in the Odeon Studio in Richmond and quite an odd group we were too ranging from small boys (under ten) to grannies (over seventy) with a smattering of young women. I was expecting just lads of all ages.

RED hits the ground running and never stops. Within the first minutes Bruce has single-handedly taken out a SWAT team who fired even more bullets than were used in The Matrix.

The film continues in much the same rich vein of action laced with clever humour. There's a good plot too and some wonderful acting by people who are obviously playing their roles more for the fun than the money. It really was a lot of fun.

The comic came as bit of a surprise having seen the film as the only element common to both is the hardly original theme of an ex-CIA agent been chased by his former colleagues. Perhaps they paid Warren Ellis just for the name RED.

The comic is more about a killer coming to terms with what he has done and, as such, brings to mind Joe Haldeman's All My Sins Remembered. It's a short comic, only three issues in the collected edition, so there is less to get your teeth in to than the film and so, while the comic has undoubted merit, it's hard to recommend it to a casual reader.

The same is true of Kick Ass and Wanted, both of which are reasonable comics but much better films.

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