7/25/2013 - Retired Extremely Dangerous spies return to the fray in RED 2, an outing that feels more like a means of buying a summer house and less like a fun action romp.
And hey, who among us wouldn’t participate in some sub-par endeavor to buy a summer house? I understand, Helen Mirren, I understand and I forgive.
Retired CIA agent Frank (Bruce Willis) is trying to live a normal, quiet life with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), the girlfriend he acquired in the last movie. But Sarah is bored with all this normalness from Frank. So when his old CIA buddy Marvin (John Malkovich) shows up, Sarah is excited about the prospect for some action.
Eventually, Marvin and John are on the hunt for Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a one-time CIA scientist who might know something about Nightshade, a nuclear weapon that might still be hidden in Moscow. Assorted people are trying to stop Marvin and John — their old pal Victoria (Helen Mirren), top-notch assassin Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee) and a U.S. government agent (Neal McDonough). As the gang travel from Paris to London to Moscow, they are also being followed by a Russian intelligence muckety-muck, Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who happens to be Frank’s ex-lover.
A thousand bullets fly but seldom is anyone hit — this is that kind of movie. The bullets feel like just one more collection of tiny MacGuffins in a movie full of plot points and backstory, none of which ever matters again the moment after it’s explained. The getting-the-band-back-together cuteness that made the first movie fun (hey, look, it’s grandpa with a machine gun!) doesn’t work in the same way, and the running subplot about Frank and Sarah’s relationship feels like stuff put in there just so there would be something to edit out for commercials when the movie shows up on FX in six months. And while I’m sure the actors very much enjoyed getting their checks for this movie, none of them seem to have very much fun being in this movie.
And that’s it — because within moments of seeing RED 2 I started to forget RED 2. This movie is light as air, but less in the buoyant way and more in the insubstantial way. Once the Willisness and the Mirrenium leaves the screen, the entire film evaporates into nothing. C-
Rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material. Directed by Dean Parisot and written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, RED 2 is an hour and 56 minutes long and distributed by Summit Entertainment.