RED 2 (2013)
RED 2 (2013)

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.

Release Date: July 19th, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Dean Parisot Actors: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones




ED 2” is so fixated on its abundance of exotic locales, fancy sports cars, sultry vixens, and outlandish set pieces that it allows these superfluous extravagances to overpower any grip it had on an inventive premise. Only moderate consolation remains – incessant location changes and elaborate fight sequences may entertain in the moment, but an absence of reason marks a quick flight from memory. An alarming chunk of the dialogue is expendable as well, though the majority of the notably inane exchanges are relegated to primarily extraneous characters. At least when preposterous lines are uttered by the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, they somehow manage to come out sounding imitable. Loaded with even more esteemed actors and returning favorites from the first film, “RED 2” does excel in humor, providing so many comedic gags that the laughs continue persistently even after the occasional flub. A better balance between comedy, action, and story might have offered something truly laudable.

When a government document is leaked on the Internet about top-secret nuclear weapon Nightshade, and former CIA operatives Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) are named in the project, the two retired agents must once again return to their perilous life of espionage in order to track down the cataclysmic device. With his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) in tow, Frank teams up with sniper Victoria (Helen Mirren) and devious seductress Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) to locate the bomb’s unstable creator, Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins). Traveling back and forth from Paris, London, Moscow and more, Frank and Marvin desperately attempt to acquire their target, all while staying one step ahead of the multiple government agencies in hot pursuit as well as the ruthless assassin (Byung-hun Lee) hired to kill them.

Assembling a notable cast of aging actors to duke it out in an action-packed secret agent thriller, “RED 2” feels quite a bit like an “Ocean’s 11” film fused with “Grumpy Old Men.” Originating in a location that has become the butt of many cinematic environmental jokes, Costco, the plot strikes up rapidly by regrouping the characters that survived the first adventure and plunging them straightaways into more unsettled pandemonium. Jetting across the globe like James Bond, several new players from Frank’s encyclopedic, Cold War special ops past supplement the chaos, abandoning allegiances, ignoring orders, and blowing stuff up for the sake of packing the script with more action sequences than dialogue. Were it not for about three scenes in which special effects and outrageous camerawork overshadow authentic stunts, “RED 2” might have recollected some of the great choreography of pre-CG action films – utilizing creative melees and humorous destruction. Ceaseless energy, the ability to take a punch, and recovering from major wounds are easy to forgive; nosediving a helicopter onto a grassy field then rolling it into flames, only to reveal unscathed heroes, is another matter entirely.

“Everyone else has a gun!” exclaims Sarah, wishing desperately to be a part of the gang – and a large chunk of the story deals with training the new fish. As with the rest of the crew, the threat of injury or death is practically nonexistent, suffocating the notion of laying low or devising a plan before dashing headlong into the line of fire. It’s even more contradictory to the tone when rushed villains spout grim intentions of torture, merely to speed up the character development. This method of forcing a primary antagonist to be quickly regarded as an especially dastardly creation is as reprehensible as the obligatory disposing of a henchman to demonstrate undiscerning evilness. But these infractions are more than amended by the hilarious presence of John Malkovich and Brian Cox, each delivering the brunt of the comic relief. Hopkins is a fine addition, while Parker receives more screentime to play with, but Zeta-Jones and Byung-hun Lee feel incredibly generic. At the heart of all these characters interacting is the theme of fixing or focusing on relationships, with genuine advice being garnered from the least likely candidates – such as Marvin, after repeatedly giving Sarah a loaded weapon, or from Victoria, sweetly, as she dissolves a corpse with acid.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10