RED 2 ReviewJuly 25, 2013
RED 2 is an unnecessary sequel filled with cliches and silliness, but it’s also a good amount of fun.
Sequels are a very common thing nowadays, but this is a year that has simply been full of them – especially during the summer. Sure, a number of these sequels have been eagerly anticipated, but otherwise there have been plenty of unnecessary sequels released this year. One of them is RED 2, even though the original was a generally well-liked film (I myself enjoyed RED). Despite its obligatory production, can this older troupe of actors prove that they have some steam left to provide some entertaining action and laughs?
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired black ops CIA agent, is now trying to live a quiet life with his timid girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker). One day, he runs into his old friend Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) who warns him of a hunch that there are people following them, but Frank thinks otherwise. Soon enough, Frank is taken to be interrogated at a Yankee White Facility, but he later escapes and sets off on the road with Marvin and Sarah. Marvin informs them that they were listed as participants in a secret operation known as Nightshade, which traces back to the Cold War when an effort was made to smuggle a nuclear warhead into Russia piece-by-piece. At the same time, their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) calls and informs Frank that she accepted a contract from MI6 to kill him, while top-tier mercenary Han Jo-bae (Byung-hun Lee) accepts a similar contract from the United States. With that, the trio set out to exonerate themselves and unravel the true mystery behind Nightshade.
Of course RED 2 is an unnecessary sequel with a convoluted plot, plenty of silliness and over-the-top story elements. One could simply gauge that from the trailers. It covers all sorts of ground already tread by other spy films, action comedies and even the original RED, and for that matter the storyline is predictable and simply more of what we all saw before. However, the curious thing is that I still enjoyed it overall. RED 2 is an excellent example of how one can still have a lot of fun with a ridiculous, predictable film, for I went along for the ride despite my “reputation” as a film snob. The entertainment factor mostly benefits from the cast, but from the angle of the writers there is plenty of genuine laughs and action scenes to satisfy. Sure, it may be a lot of what you have seen before, but in this case is that necessarily a bad thing? For me, it sure wasn’t.
As I have already mentioned, RED 2 is mostly successful due to its cast. Sure, many of the actors on display here are simply playing caricatures of themselves, but the difference is that the fun they apparently had during production is infectious. Bruce Willis continually makes those signature facial expressions that are gradually becoming a cliche, but otherwise he is a fun action lead as always. John Malkovich is once again hysterical, and so is Helen Mirren, but more subtly so. It’s a shame that newcomers Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones don’t provide as many laughs as one would expect, but they do fit quite well in the cast. I can also understand the complaints many critics have been making towards Mary-Louise Parker – that she is consistently annoying – but I for one didn’t mind her performance. What really matters here is the cast works well as a whole, and thankfully most of the actors in this ensemble have scenes together to keep the entertainment value consistent throughout.
Another key thing that certainly helped to make RED 2 a watchable experience is the solid action. Sure, there is no real art – let alone realism – to director Dean Parisot’s work here, but at least the set pieces are coherently edited and filmed. The main thing is that the action scenes in RED 2 don’t comprise of 50 shots being thrown into a blender. You can comprehend what is going on on-screen most of the time, and the result is often entertaining and even funny at times – the last fight between Bruce Willis and Byung-hun Lee is certainly the standout action scene in the film. Alan Silvestri does a fine job with the music as well, for even if it is simply a serviceable score it manages heighten the tension when necessary, and keep the adrenaline pumping.
RED 2 will go down as one of the multiple disappointments we have seen this summer. With a ridiculous plot, many over-the-top elements, many cliches that pervade this genre and of course a repeat of what we’ve already seen from the original movie, RED 2 isn’t a completely successful sequel. Even so, this film won me over in the end. I came into RED 2 wanting more ridiculous action, an expansion of the reputable cast and some laughs, and for the most part that is what I got. Repetition can be harmful for sequels, but here, it actually worked, and perhaps it will for you too.