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Review: Red 2

Red 2
07.17.2013
4 10

PLOT: A couple of years after the events of RED, retired agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is trying to live a quiet life with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). When an old memo linking him and fellow retiree Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) to a top secret Cold War weapon makes its way online, he finds himself a fugitive. Now on the run, Frank and Marvin not only have to clear their names, but they also have to contend with their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) who’s been contracted by MI6 to kill them, and Frank’s murderous old protégé turned contract killer Han (Lee Byung-hun).

REVIEW: Back in March, if you had told me that A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD was going to be the better Bruce Willis sequel to come out this year, I would have thought you were crazy (although that was pretty bad in it's own right). I thoroughly enjoyed the original RED, and although I assumed a sequel would be more of the same, I never expected it to be this bad. Sure enough, RED 2 is probably the worst Bruce Willis movie since another uncalled-for sequel, THE WHOLE TEN YARDS.

What the hell happened? The original writers are back (although this time they don’t have a Warren Ellis graphic novel to lean on) and while director Robert Schwentke has moved on to RIPD (coincidently coming out on the same day) new director Dean Parisot struck me as a perfectly acceptable substitute, with him having directed the vastly underrated GALAXY QUEST.

The first ten minutes or so aren’t that bad, with it kicking off with a really solid action sequence that has Willis abducted by new baddie Neal McDonough (virtually recreating his role from JUSTIFIED), and being forced to escape by improvising weapons out of whatever he finds. At this point I fully figured RED 2 was going to be just as good as, if not better than the first. Sadly, from there the film goes absolutely into the toilet.

While the first RED was basically an action movie with lots of comedy, this one is more of a comedy with some action, until all of the sudden in the third act where they decide to be more-or-less serious again. Until then, RED 2 is so goofy that by the time the tone changes you won’t care anymore. It doesn’t help that the plot is paper thin, with Willis and company being forced to rescue a daffy Cold War scientist, played in the movie’s sole amusing performance by Anthony Hopkins, who’s been locked up for the last thirty years. While the first film saw the team seemingly dodging assassins at every turn, here they never seem to be in danger (not helped by the fact that it feels like the budget was lowered from the first film, which may explain why there’s more comedy, and less action).

Remember how funny John Malkovich was in the first movie? Here he’s incredibly stale, with him just being called upon to do the same old thing he did last time. Malkovich is always worth watching, but whatever it was about the character that made him so likable in the first film is mostly absent here. Ditto Mary-Louise Parker, who was charming in the last movie, but is mostly called on to be annoying here, with most of her “humor” coming from a plot that makes her jealous of Frank’s interest in his old KGB flame, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones (who’s way too young for the part, but looks great), who helps the gang out for a while.

As for Bruce Willis, in the action scenes he seems to be having fun, but otherwise he’s not asked to do a heck of a lot. I get that this is just a quickie sequel, and not Oscar-bait, but it just feels like everyone here is an auto-pilot, especially Willis. The same goes for Helen Mirren, who’s off-screen for long stretches of time, and only gets one really memorable scene, where she pretends to be Queen Elizabeth to get into a mental hospital. Lee Byung-hun is the only one that seems to really be trying here, but even his part is very thinly written, and he comes off as too much of a buffoon to really add any kind of menace to the proceedings.

RED 2 would still get a pass if the action scenes were in any way memorable, but other than the first set piece, the shootouts and fights are tepid. The ending is particularly lame and jingoistic, although to prevent any spoilers I won’t tell you why. Suffice to say, RED 2 is a sequel that should have never gotten made. It’s nothing but a pale imitation of the first movie. It’s so bad that if I had caught this on Blu-ray or TV instead of reviewing it in theaters, there’s no way I would have stuck it out until the end.

Extra Tidbit: The coolest part of the movie is that two Hannibal Lecter's- Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox- get a quick scene together.
Source: JoBlo.com

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