The other day we saw Red 2, and just as an initial reaction… this was a great action movie. The cast is fantastic, even more good actors than the first film. I might call this one better than the first, and I really enjoyed the first one.
I read the three-part Red comic in preparation for this movie, and rewatched Red. The comic gives a basis for the character of Frank Moses, but the plot and the rest of the characters have been an addition and growth to this.
So I’ll take a look at what they pulled from the comic, and at the movie. Spoilers to follow for Red and Red 2!
Red is a simple comic with a simple meaning. Frank Moses was the best the CIA had, the sort of operative we make movies about. Toppled governments, kicked a lot of asses. These sorts of things. In Watchmen, he would be the Comedian. Only he doesn’t die in the beginning.
Not that they don’t try. A new director is brought in to the CIA, and read into who Frank Moses was, and what he did. This is to show the director how far the CIA has gone in accomplishing its goals. The new director is sickened and frightened and cannot believe Frank has been left to live out his retirement. So he wants him killed.
Not that it works. Frank makes it all the way into Langley and takes the director out by the end. And Frank makes some interesting points: for instance, that a real man wouldn’t threaten family to make someone do something. Well, he does, but not in a real way.
He also makes the point that he has killed a lot of men, and some women, but not children. But now the children are all grown up, and they’re finding out what they did during the Cold War – the things he hoped no one would know – and now the children are judging and condemning, without having been there, without understanding. So there is a bit of a feeling that now Frank is having to kill the children, too, because they won’t let him rest.
But just, really, know that when I say children here I mean grown men. Just, you know, younger ones.
Red the Movie
So after reading the comics, I rewatched Red in preparation for seeing the sequel. The comic was really only about four characters, and a lot of dead CIA agents: the director and his deputy, the girl who Frank calls about his benefits (who in the comic is CIA, and he uses her for her Langley access card – and in the picture to the left, he decides he can’t kill her), and then Frank Moses.
I think the first movie is Red only in the sense that Frank Moses has to fight for survival in his retirement. The reason they come after him changes, and he seeks more help – which he does not have or need in the comic. However, this leads to a more fleshed out plot and story for the screen, and even better, the cast they pull together makes it so much fun.
That, and as mentioned, they keep the idea of the girl he calls, and has a bit of a crush on. However, in the comic, there is less of a sense that he can lead anything approaching a normal life, and no romantic overtones.
They took a comic that was really kind of a skeleton, and was violent, and dirty, and had a strong point (though based in fictional CIA actions, so a strong point about fiction, for what that’s worth)… and, in the movie, they gave this skeleton a beating heart, some brains, fleshed it out… made it whole. Pretty good work, all-in-all.
Red 2, meanwhile, also remembers that it is based on the comic. For instance, the opening sequence is in the art style of the comic (for which, Bruce Willis works so well). They give the movie even more cast, explore the romantic elements more, keep the humor going, go to even more world locales… and generally have a good time.
I don’t think I had seen this trailer, it’s interesting… gives a bit much away, if you ask me, but it is also kind of a showcase of the characters and cool scenes. A lot of what it gives away is great action scenes, not necessarily plot.
So you were warned.
In terms of the comic, however, it might be a bit of a stretch, but… I really feel like they got closer to the underlying philosophical point of Red: the Cold War was a messy time, and they did extreme things, and people in the present should neither judge too harshly, or think that they can do the same things now that were done then.
The characters are also called upon to make a choice in the movie, one by one, to fight against what is happening. To not just let it happen. To save the world. I think that this gives a lot of life to the characters, and there’s a lot of heroes by the end.
Meaning honestly, I’ll go see Red 3.