Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Directed by Dean Parisot.
2013. Rated PG-13, 116 minutes.
Bruce Willis
Mary-Louise Parker
John Malkovich
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Byung-hun Lee
Helen Mirren
Anthony Hopkins
Neal McDonough
Brian Cox

After the events of the first RED, secret agent Frank (Willis) and his then damsel-in-distress Sarah (Parker) have settled down to a nice quiet life. While out shopping for power tools, they run into Marvin (Malkovich) who informs them that people are still after him and he needs Frank to join him in catching some bad guys. Thinking Marvin is crazy, Frank declines, despite Sarah's protestations. She's become bored with the quiet life. Marvin approaches them again in the store parking lot. Frank turns him down again. Next thing you know, Marvin's car blows up with him in it. This sets in motion a chain of events that leads our heroes around the world, picking up Victoria (Mirren) and Ivan (Cox) along the way. Eventually, things lead to a thingamajig that could blow up everything. Meanwhile, the number of people after them grows and contracts at various points.

RED 2 does the same thing as its predecessor in terms of how it handles its characters. It takes a bunch of stars and lets them all kind of do their thing. They form a totally charming ensemble and appear to be having loads of fun. Regardless of what's going on, it's a blast watching them. Most enjoyable is John Malkovich. No, Marvin doesn't die in the explosion. Spoiler alert not needed. He plays the paranoid, slightly crazed, but ultimately wise agent to perfection. Bruce Willis seems to be stifling laughter much of the time which is always amusing. Helen Mirren once again kicks ass as the cold-blooded assassin whose really a romantic at heart, but gets less screen time this go round. Still, her exchanges with Brian Cox are very funny. This core group is joined by Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee, and Neal McDonough all taking glorious turns chewing chunks of scenery. Zeta-Jones is particularly good in her role as "Frank Moses kryptonite."

Unfortunately, the story our heroes and villains tell fails them. Individually, the various elements of the tale could all make their own fun little movie. Thrown together haphazardly, as they are, it's a convoluted mess. Our focus has to jump around the numerous strands, all of which are pulled together in the most contrived ways imaginable. It attempts to be a roller coaster of epic proportions. Instead of gliding through the loops and being pulled joyously from the heights by gravity, we're jerked about the tracks as the frame creaks and sent plunging toward the earth, uncertain the ride will hold up under our weight.

The difference between our feelings about the performers and their material is vast. As viewers, we're left in a weird spot. We enjoy watching them employ their craft. They make us laugh. So the movie functions fairly well as a comedy. However, we're rolling our eyes at the actual events taking place. There are too many of them and they don't quite work with each other. The chefs in this particular kitchen have thrown a bunch of ingredients together without any rhyme or reason and created a dish that has some great elements, but doesn't quite work.


  1. I completely agree with your review, it had so much potential with the characters but ruined it by overloading the story!

    Definitely not a re-watcher for me! - Jenna

  2. Definitely not a re-watcher is a great way to put it.