Review: “Red 2″ is past its prime

July 18th, 2013 at 10:58 pm by under Entertainment
"Red 2" poster courtesy Summit Entertainment

“Red 2″ poster courtesy Summit Entertainment

“Red 2” (2013)
Rated: PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material
Runtime: 1 hour, 56 minutes
Genre: Action/Comedy/Crime/Thriller

My spoiler-free review:


Good acting and camaraderie aside… “Red 2″ makes the older-person-action star idea look like it needs to be retired.

I wanted to like this movie, I was excited to see it after the first one did so well almost three years ago.  The concept of retirees as mercenaries was good the first time out, RED stands for Retried and Extremely Dangerous by the way.  But this movie was full of more holes than the cars that were turned to swiss cheese by a gatling gun in one scene.  It shows some flashes of brillance like its predecessor, but those flashes are too far and too few… I give it 6.0 out of 10 … wait to rent it!

Warning: its rated PG-13 for violence including frenetic gunplay and some language

If you’re looking for action and espionage – this movie has some, most near the final scenes of the movie, but if you’re looking for something with a little more romantic comedy, quirky characters, a trek across the world, and aging veteran actors – than this is your movie!!

Once again, Bruce Willis’ Frank assembles a fun team of ex-government agents after we are thrust into a pretty rediclous plot point – a device that they must stop to save the world.  His girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) is back by his side as the two explore their ongoing relationship… in this movie she’s less the tag-along woman and trying to be more a member of the team.   The always-on-his-game John Malkovich is back as the zany sidekick Marvin, trying to help Frank with advice on the mission and his relationship with Sarah.  It was also great to see the return of the always talented Helen Mirren as the sharp-shooting assassin Victoria and mother-figure to Sarah (who also gets a little in-joke at her role as the Queen) plus there’s Brian Cox as the comically interesting ex-KGB agent Ivan.

New to the mix are a very wise performance by the talented Anthony Hopkins, a sneaky performance by Neal McDonough, a short and odd performance by David Thewlis, a spirited effort by Byung-hun Lee, and a confusing and over-the-top performance from Catherine Zeta-Jones as a russian secret agent.

They all look like they were having a good time making this movie…
But… After you get past the main cast and their range of very good to weak perfromances, what’s left is a mediocre movie with many story and production problems.

Production problems:

So this movie franchise was inspired by a limited comic book series from 2003-2004, and I get that its trying to convince / remind the audience of that … but there’s too much graphical representation of that in constant comic book-esque transitions between scenes and during the opening titles.  If it was trying to feel like a comic book – than go for it… do more camera moves and framing to mimic reading a comic… even add a “POW” or “KABLOOM”… but this movie just mashes up the print and the moving pictures with no payoff.

There were several scenes with painfully obvious voice-over/dub problems – when characters were facing away from camera and the words they were speaking did not match the movements of their mouths – I don’t know whether lines of dialogue were changed or its just a really bad lipsynch – this was distracting… and cheapened the movie.

And there were some not very well disguised stuntmen in some scenes – especially the chase scene that involves David Thewlis and Catherine Zeta-Jones – their stunt doubles are such bad look alikes that it looked like a comedy sketch from a small budget late night cable comedy show.   Its like the movie had millions to spend for the first unit (main cast) and just a couple hundred to spend on the second and third units (supporting cast, stunts, stand-ins).

Story problems: (possible spoilers)

Byung-hun Lee’s character – the assassin Han Cho Bai – not only has a vendetta against Frank (Willis) he is hired to kill him… after the third encounter and a fight with a much older man whom should be no trouble for him… has a change of heart and is even recruited by Frank to join their little band of merry mercenaries.

Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character – the Russian agent Katja – is supposed to be from Frank’s past, but her accent (if you could call it that) comes and goes, plus I think that her character is supposed to be conflicted between orders and her feelings for Frank – but they never really explored that, she just makes the decision and we’re left to accept it.  Between the accent and the over acting… this was clearly more a paycheck role for her… not a performance she would want to put high on her resume if auditioning for an Oscar contender.

I know there’s more plot holes, but its late and I’m tried of writing about this movie that is neither in the ensemble category of “Ocean’s Eleven” (crime/thriller) or “The Expendables” (action/comedy).

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

“Red 2” 

Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough, David Thewlis, Brian Cox

Director: Dean Parisot (TV shows, Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), Galaxy Quest (1999))

Writer(s): Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber

The Plot: Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

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