Review: Red 2
Yet again, a group of former elite special secret super spy agents are called back into action to stop a plot to steal or create or detonate a nuclear bomb. This is a sequel to Red, in which the team was first called back into action. Now, they are called back into action, again.
A star-studded cast of very charming actors, all of whom are ostensibly playing characters they’ve played on screen before, includes Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Catherine-Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and the very cool Byung-hun Lee.
During the many, many moments when your mind wanders amid this aimless cash grab of a sequel, it’s really easy to think about how lazy the film is, and how much better it can be. Cramming a bunch of stars into roles that they’ve played before, and not just in this franchise that will likely have a third film, the film rises and falls on the energy they choose to put into their scene.
Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, a former CIA black ops operative, a man growing accustomed to a life of domesticity with his native Kansas girlfriend. Of course, his old paranoid friend Marvin (Malkovich) thinks something is up, and it’s not long before something is blowing up, the guys are being shot at, and all three of them become terrorists.
Things happen fast. It’s the idea that the quicker, the louder, and more the stylish the film bounds along, the less you will think about what is happening. Not that this should be at all serious or logical. Red 2 does have some especially funny moments, but almost exclusively come from Parker and Malkovich, both of whom have a lot of fun playing dress up. Parker is a bored thrill seeker, and Malkovich wants to give dating advice, and it’s entertaining enough.
Mostly, though, it’s lazy. The endless casual violence is distressing, as Willis and others rack up the body count with ease, toting massive weapons and blowing up a lot of cities. The team globe trots as a ruthless government agent, a deadly contract killer (Lee), and an old friend (Mirren) hunt them down. There is something top secret, something about a nuclear device, and constantly changing allegiances, all of which make for a convoluted and derivative mess of a story.
It should be more fun, and it should be less disturbing, and everyone is just riffing off who we know. Willis smirks as he mows down bad guys, Malkovich screams, Parker plays the innocent, and everyone just tries too hard to be cool. It so badly wants to be chic and entertaining, but what you get is laziness all around, from the direction that tries to emulate the graphic novel, to the action scenes that oscillate between hyper real and cartoonish, to a plot that’s crafted only to put these stars in major world cities.
As they travel the globe, the only place you’ll want to be is out of the theatre.
Should I See It?
This might be the most unoriginal movie out this summer in a season filled with sequels and prequels, so by all means, no.
Willis to Malkovich, upon his resurrection. “That’s not true. I did not cry at your funeral. I’m no crier.”