Before I saw this, I heard RED 2 described as a sequel which didn’t need to be made. Now I can see why.
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is retired (again) and living the homely life with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), but the reason for ‘bringing the band back together’ is delivered by Marvin (John Malkovich), who tells them that their lives are in danger because, 4 days earlier, someone sent out word that they knew about “Project Nightshade”, something brought about by a rogue U.S. General, which ties in with the Cold War and another of their team also had a hand in it – Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), although he’s now believed to be dead after the Russians got him with a car bomb. Trouble is, that’s what our heroes believe, even though they’re experts in faking their own deaths. They’re not very bright.
(Pssst! You know Bailey’s not really dead because they made a big thing about having Anthony Hopkins in the trailer)
Then throw in expert contract killer Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee), who also starred in another 2013 turkey – G.I. Joe Retalliation (and alongside Bruce Willis!) – who Frank once put in prison for many years; plus The Frog (David Thewlis), who’s another big bad guy we’re meant to care about; Jack Horton (Neal McDonough), hired as the man to stop Frank and Marvin, although his character starts off with promise but then is just a throwaway like all the rest; Brian Cox and Steven Berkoff in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-and-you-won’t-care scenes; and then another RED original, Victoria (Helen Mirren), who is brought in by the UK government to kill Frank, Marvin and Sarah.
I really enjoyed the first Red but this one just seems so lazy, tiresome and plain boring. The original had action sequences peppered throughout, with a distinct slo-mo visual style which the trailer for RED 2 made it look would continue aplenty… except it doesn’t. Apart from what you see in the trailer, it’s all done very much by-the-numbers.
There’s a car chase which is a mess, as the main three, with Katja (Catherine Zeta Jones), go after The Frog, who’s on a moped, not to mention the other car chase which you’ll see in the trailer, as Helen Mirren fires guns out of either side of the car.
Everyone’s just going through the numbers here. I love Mary-Louise Parker, but do yourself a favour – skip this and watch the largely-ignored Weeds instead. She’s so much better in that, even if the programme, itself, does tail off as the seasons go on. Malkovich has been far better in the past, and you wish for that talent to shine again. Mirren, the same. You can see why Morgan Freeman clearly had better things to do. As for newcomer Anthony Hopkins, 32 years locked up have left his character with severe mental problems, so the film uses that as something to laugh at(!)
And as for Bruce Willis? He’s the worst. You think he looked bored during the infamous Magic FM interview?
That’s nothing compared to his morose visage here. He said, during that interview, that “the fun part was making the movie”. Really, Bruce? Tell your face! I’ve given RED 2 just 2 out of 10. This is the same score I gave A Good Day To Die Hard. That was a travesty to the series, while RED 2 is just an exercise in tedium.
And look at the rest of his recent output, with the exception of Looper, which I really enjoyed: The Expendables 2 – better than the first, but still a far cry from being worthy, Moonrise Kindom – just utterly dull, plus a load of direct-to-DVD – or even unreleased in the UK – fare such as The Assassination, Catch .44, Setup and Lay The Favourite. What a shame.
Oh… and if they’d made RED 2 in 3D, they could’ve filmed it with… RED cameras, eh? Eh? *taps mic* Is this thing on?
Red was a great ensemble cast piece. RED 2 feels like a disparate collection of poor set-pieces which don’t hang together at all. It’s one mind-numbingly predictable scene after another: a lazy Hollywood cash-in. Avoid.
Running time: 116 minutes
Released: August 2nd 2013
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Hawk Scope)
Director: Dean Parisot
Producers: Raphaël Benoliel, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian
Screenplay: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber
Music: Alan Silvestri
Frank: Bruce Willis
Marvin: John Malkovich
Sarah: Mary-Louise Parker
Victoria: Helen Mirren
Bailey: Anthony Hopkins
Han Cho Bai: Byung-hun Lee
Katja: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Jack Horton: Neal McDonough
The Frog: David Thewlis
Director Philips: Tim Pigott-Smith
Ivan: Brian Cox
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.