CATEGORIES Action, Thrillers, Fandom, Scripts, Newsstand, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Movie News, CinematicalWhen Warren Ellis' Red was optioned last year, it caused little excitement. After all, it was only one of dozens of shoot-em-up comics being snapped up, and it's not a fan favorite. (That's not to say it's a bad book, or that it doesn't have its fans, just that it's not exactly Spider Jerusalem.) But it has rounded up a truly wonderful cast that boasts Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John C. Reilly. Naturally, such a large cast makes it pretty evident that the slim storyline has been expanded considerably, leading Ellis to address fan fears on his personal website.
Ellis is open about the fact that much has been changed, and that the cast of characters have been greatly expanded, but he's remarkably cool about it. "Yes, Red the film is very different. Not least because it needed to generate more material than the book itself actually constituted. It is in fact best to consider Red as a short story being adapted into film ... When I sell the rights to a book, they buy the right to adapt it in whatever way they see fit. I can accept that they wanted a lighter film, and, as I've said before, the script is very enjoyable and tight as a drum. They haven't adapted it badly, by any means. People who've enjoyed the graphic novel will have to accept that it's an adaptation and that by definition means that it's going to be a different beast from the book. The film has the same DNA. It retains bits that are very clearly from the book, as well as, of course, the overall plotline. But it is, yes, lighter, and funnier."
Naturally, you run into the question of "Why rewrite a book instead of just penning something new?" ... but who are we to sniff at cinematic inspiration? As long it makes something good, I'm all right with it. If Red has been adapted to be more of a 1980s action film -- perhaps Die Hard with assassins -- then I'll actually find it more appealing. Action films have become so dark and dreary that a story like Red no longer stands out as anything remarkable.
If you doubt my enthusiasm, then let's return to the words of Ellis: "If anyone has a real problem with that, I say to you once again: Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle. I mean, if you don't want to see a film with Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle, I'm not sure I want to know you."
Mirren with a sniper rifle! I can't wait to see that. I stand with Ellis on this one. I'm not sure I want to know anyone who doesn't love the very thought of that.