For a three-book comic, Red — written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Cully Hamner — has gotten a lot of mileage. There was a movie adaptation in 2010 that was spectacular and grossed $200 million worldwide. Then, there was a sequel in 2013 that maybe was not as spectacular, but still hugely entertaining for an action comedy based off a sort-of serious concept. In between the first and second films, Cully Hamner went on to write and illustrate Red prequel comics, with Ellis’ blessing.
RED stands for Retired and Extremely Dangerous, the designation given to ex-super spy types played by the likes of Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren, because the casting director is a goddamned genius. Karl Urban — the grumpy young man chasing a bunch of grumpy old men — was also inspired, and the lack of his character in the sequel is largely what I thought the problem was with the second movie.
Now comes the news that NBC will be producing a one-hour Red television series, to be written and produced by Jon and Erich Hoeber, who wrote both movie’s scripts. According to Deadline:
…the TV series version will retain the core concept of the films but will be set in a more grounded and authentic world, focusing on the characters’ darkly hilarious struggles to survive civilian life as they simultaneously fight for and against the very organization that threw them out.
By “more grounded and authentic,” I assume they’ll lose the over-the-top car chases, explosions, gun fights, and John Malkovich’s batsh*t paranoid conspiracies that turn out to be true 90 percent of the time. Sounds super boring, everyone!
There’s no word on cast or crew, and I’m not entirely sure this announcement by NBC means they’ve ordered a pilot or just really like the idea. RED could work really well as a comedy, though, perhaps along the lines of Chuck, which was also on NBC.
I’m not sure what Karl Urban is doing now other than Star Trek sequels, but because he’s no longer on my TV in the robot buddy cop show Almost Human, I wouldn’t mind him returning every once in a while as a recurring character in RED.