October 27, 2016
        "The Circle" and "The Lost City of Z": Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?                Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe, Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacy Keach at Hollywood Film Awards                Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars        

Bruce Willis’ “Red” is stylish and hilarious. Which studio passed on it?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Don’t sleep on “Red” this weekend.

Audience members looking for a stylish action thriller with a sharp sense of humor and a to-die-for cast of colorful character actors will want to sample Robert Schwentke’s adaptation of a witty, gritty graphic novel. Tracking numbers have been solid, and our preview audience (granted, a small sample) hooted and hollered along with the film earlier this week.

But one specific studio won’t be hoping for “Red” to clean up at the box this weekend, as the Hollywood Reporter notes that Warner passed on the project before it ended up at Summit – the studio best known for backing Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series.

“It is the first movie based on a DC Comics title that was not made by DC sister company Warners,” the story says. “And now that Warners has made moves to envelop DC and exploit the film potential of DC’s library more aggressively by creating DC Entertainment, it’s likely to be the last one as well.”

So Warner let “Red” slip through its fingers. It’s hard to fault them. On paper, its sounds like a gamble. Older thespians like Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman wielding massive hand cannons as retired spies enlisted for one more missions? Bruce Willis as yet another indestructible force fighting to bring down a corrupt government official? John Malkovich as the unpredictable member of the group, a wild-card agent who has been fed a steady diet of LSD for the better part of two decades? A gamble.

Plus, Schwentke hadn’t proven himself yet. “Flightplan” was a modest grosser ($89 million in 2005), while his “Time Traveler’s Wife” adaptation – for Warner Bros., it should be noted – didn’t lure the large audience attached to that book.

But “Red” should put him on the map and, at the very least, field him plenty more offers to direct projects that sound too much like “Red.” I hope he goes in a different direction. “Red” works against its odds. The cast has chemistry, the script has zing, and the set pieces have energy. Duplicating it would be tough. Trying to would be unwise.

Want to learn more about “Red” before it opens tomorrow? Yahoo Movies has a behind-the-scenes featurette on its site today. And “Red” opens everywhere tomorrow. Be sure to give it a try.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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