Set Visit: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman in Red!
"I'm waiting to get in the van", I tell the attendant outside the hotel.
Next thing I know, I'm shuffling into a unmarked, black van to a location unknown. Naturally, this is what I should suspect from a Bruce Willis film. "So, um, I thought this thing would be closer to the hotel." We're instructed that it's not too far and as we're looking out the windows at suburbs then an industrial area. After about ten minutes or so, we are dropped off and taken through a maze of shipping containers. Finally in the very center, we find the film crew filming a scene that has some of the most amusing elements I've seen in awhile. But we'll get to that soon enough...
The unit publicist, whom I learn at the end of my visit is named Joe, tells us it will be just a second before someone comes over. The first person that sits at the head of our table is Mr. Lorenzo di Bonaventura. He’s one of the producers whose credits include TRANSFORMERS, STARDUST, G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA, and most recently, SALT. Bonaventura provided a lot of excited background on the film. Everyone also provided a lot of cussing. That’s what the heat will do to you.
So, what’s so cool about RED? What sets it apart from movies like THE LOSERS or THE EXPENDABLES? Well, the premise comes from the comic of the same name by Warren Ellis. Frank Moses is a retired CIA agent who is just trying to collect his social security check and live out his days in solitude. However, someone wants to throw Frank’s tranquility off balance. When a new director is brought into the CIA, he gets to view a tape of Moses killing people for his country in this unmentionably violent way. The director then decides they must get rid of Frank.
Without giving away what happens, the comic is pretty cut and dry. There wasn’t enough dialogue within the 66 pages for a full-length film. So the story was fleshed out a bit. Now there’s more of a comedic tone and a cast that would impress the pants off anyone. You’ve got: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, Julian McMahon, Brian Cox, James Remar, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dreyfuss, and Ernest Borgnine. The majority of the veteran actors make up a group of former CIA agents, just like Moses who is RED- retired extremely dangerous. When Frank is on the run he calls on his former comrades for a bit of help. You’ll also find a love story between Frank and his handler, Sarah played by Parker. But don’t expect it too get too mushy. Malkovich is on the run with the pair as this crazy ass guy who lives in a shack that doubles as an armory and carries a pink stuffed pig around with him. This bit of information brings me to the scene we got to check out…
Let’s have di Bonaventura set it up for us, ”This scene here….in the movie one of the pieces of information they’ve uncovered is a list of which Frank is on. It’s a hit list. And they’re trying to discover what the meaning of it is, why he’s on it, where it comes from. And Frank (Willis) and Marvin (Malkovich) actually are two of the people on it.”
As soon as they say action, shots ring out. Willis and Parker are hiding behind these shipping containers on the opposite side is Malkovich doing the same, nearly cuddling his pink stuffed pig. Suddenly a voice says, “We’re gunna get you old man.” Malkovich looks curiously over at Willis and replies, “Old man?” End scene. You’ll find out that the pig is essential. It’s one of the strangest, yet best gags I’ve seen in a long time. Seriously, you should see the eyes on this pig, it looks deranged.
The rest of the day was really spent talking up some the stars and crew of the film. Everyone was extremely nice and definitely full of character. My favorite point was when Bruce Willis starts talking about how many f-bombs a “hard P-13” will allow. He starts dropping the words, “f*ck and motherf*cker” left and right. We’re all laughing our ass off, including me. Suddenly, Willis looks at me, smiles, and says, “No blushing.” I connected with one of the biggest action stars on this planet, and it may be because he thinks I’m probably the same age as his youngest daughter.
We didn’t wait around for Bruce Willis to fire an RPG, though I wish we would’ve now. Also, Warren Ellis was right. If you don’t want to see Helen Mirren fire a sniper rifle in a ballgown, I’m not sure I want to know you.
Make sure to check back later this week to catch interviews with the RED cast…