19 July 2013

Review: Red 2

 

Retirement didn't suit black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) well the first time he tried it and, in Red 2, it seems like domestic bliss with girlfriend, Sarah (Mary Louise Parker) isn't all it is cracked up to be. Frank is getting up there in years and shopping trips at CostCo is not how he wants to spend his remaining time on this Earth. Springing up from the tupperware, Marvin (John Malkovich) informs Frank that he won't have to.

A portable nuclear device, missing from the pages of history until WikiLeaks dragged it back up, is back on the market and just waiting for evildoers to destroy the world with it. Sensing an opportunity to get back in the game one more time, Frank reunites his crew of retired operatives for one last hurrah.

With Morgan Freeman and Ernest Borgnine missing in action, Anthony Hopkins and Byung Hun Lee are added as Dr. Bailey and a super assassin in a crisp suit, respectively.

The trio's little chase catches the eye of many international players and suddenly they wind up targeted by their former employers (again), with Victoria (Helen Mirren, smashing as always) given the contract this time around. Of course one assassin after Frank and Marvin just wouldn't do, so a legion of assassins, terrorists and corrupted government officials will have to suffice.

Sarah still plays the outsider as Frank and Marvin track the device around Europe while Willis's exasperated reactions to Malkovich's eccentricities prove to be as entertaining as ever. But the fun doesn't end there for Frank, he also gets to manage a relationship on the run as an old flame (Catherine Zeta-Jones) finds her way back into his life, much to Sarah's chagrin. The back and forth between the main cast is a rich well waiting to be returned to again and again.

No more fun could be derived from an action flick than placing acting greats in a completely tongue-in-cheek genre movie in which they can mug and chew scenery and have a blast doing so. Mirren, above all others, gets what Red is about and provides exactly what the audience wants: disposing of bodies in evening-wear, rifling at a picnic and taking part in car chases and so on. Watching Mirren relish in all of the shenanigans that older actresses aren't typically privy to is an unfettered joy.

As entertaining as this cast can be, the fact that Red 2 is almost a shot-for-shot recreation of the last film makes every high a little more disappointing when you feel it coming before it happens. Nowhere is this highlighted more than this move (that smacks of studio tinkering) where there are three recreations of the car spin from the predecessor. The plot is serviceable enough, but when you spend the entire film waiting for the next scene to thrill you only for it to be a repeat, it grows tiresome.

Red director Robert Schwentke is replaced by Galaxy Quest's Dean Parisot, which leaves the film a little more dull stylistically, but Parisot is right to place the focus on his crew of three Oscar winners, they can save the world, just not quite the film.