Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough, Brian Cox, David Thewlis, and more.
Directed by: Dean Parisot Written by: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber Based on Characters Created by: Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak Original Music by: Alan Silvestri
Premise: Retired CIA agent Frank Moses is enjoying ‘normal’ life, though his relationship with Sarah has come into some trouble. Her exposure to the thrills and dangers of being pursued have left her wanting more, but all Frank wants is for her to be safe – from everything. So when Marvin shows up with portents of doom, Frank isn’t thrilled. But when Marvin’s car explodes, and Frank confirms at the funeral that his odd friend really might not be faking it this time – he hits the start of an emotional rollercoaster. To make matters worse, agents show up outside the funeral to take Frank into custody to grill him over a project he’s never heard of – Project Nightingale. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: If you enjoyed “RED” back in 2010, you’ll be thrilled to know all those wonderful retired agents are back! Bruce Willis is just too much fun as the emotionally repressed, relationship bumbling, retired CIA agent Frank Moses. John Malkovich is a riot as Marvin. And yes, Marvin is still crazy, but now even dispenses love and relationship advice! Helen Mirren reprises her role as Victoria, more deadly and fun than ever. Catherine Zeta-Jones brought the heat up as Katja, Frank’s one and only weakness. Mary-Louise Parker was hilarious as Sarah, craving the adrenaline and vying to prove she can be a better spy than the rival Russian hottie.
You’ll have to wait a bit, but Brian Cox also returned as the ever romantic Ivan. He is well worth the wait!
Three other newcomers complete the headliners of this fun puzzle – Byung-hun Lee, who plays Han, a super cool assassin (at least until someone steals his plane), Anthony Hopkins as the somewhat unhinged Dr. Bailey (he’s so good!), and Neal McDonough as the heartless Jack Horton. So there’s tons of awesome talent for viewers to enjoy!
2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: “RED 2” is full of great pyrotechnics. From the explosion of Marvin’s car to the fantastic visuals used for a large sky detonation, everything looked wonderful. Throw in the gun battles, car chases, and especially the escape from the Fed holding facility, and your action quota will reach maximum.
3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: The comedy for “RED 2”, much like in “RED,” is very low key. It’s much like reading the great works of Terry Pratchett – serious topics presented with just a bit of ridicule to make them that much more poignant. The characters are all contradictions of themselves, amazing in their element, but almost clueless when dealing with the mundane. Frank Moses is the focal point of most of the odd duality – on the one hand he’s a retired yet still incredibly competent superspy, on the other he’s a poor fool who can’t even tell his overprotectiveness is driving away the very woman/companion he’s craved his whole life for.
There are lots of great twists and turns as Frank, Sarah, Marvin and their friends try to unravel the mystery of Project Nightingale. Sarah’s jealousy of Katja and how far she’s willing to go to try to prove she’s better were hilarious just from her undaunted drive to succeed.
Loved the way they tied “RED 2” back to “RED” with little mentions or tidbits that while not hurting the film if you didn’t catch them, added a lot for those who did. We caught several of them after the fact, as we had so much fun with this one, we went and watched the original again – and then loved them both that much more.
The only real weak point in the plot was the fact something about Bailey was not mentioned or made clearer earlier (though I could have conceivably stepped out when they mentioned it, so it could be that I just missed it). But on the same vein, hours after seeing the film – I realized the bit about Bailey’s pipe and where he finally found it actually singled out a profound and chilling statement of what he was feeling and really doing at that particular time thirty two years before. (And no, I can’t tell you what it was! You’ll have to see the film and figure it out for yourselves…)
A couple of recurring jokes also peppered the film. I loved the one about the airplane. The one with “I didn’t see that coming” has been used in other films before, so didn’t work quite as well, in my opinion, though it was still fun.
4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Spies, governments, and exposed secrets means we get a ton of action and a ton of stunts as well. Two beautifully filmed and choreographed car sequences tied right back to the original film in their orchestration as well as look and feel. Scene after great scene of gun play and hand to hand combat. Han’s introduction to the story was marvelous – and all the scenes with hand to hand combat with Byung-hun Lee were just fantastic.
The long chase scene through Paris was a great deal of fun.
5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: While the first “RED” film took us to all sorts of locals in the US, “RED 2” is international. (I did miss seeing the whole postcard motif from the first film, but the red slashes worked pretty well too.) Great shots of places like London, Paris, Moscow. The long chase scene I mentioned before took great advantage of the locale with great shots of the area.
6) Costuming/Makeup – Total Thumbs Up: Great work by the makeup department, especially as the story goes along and some of the characters get into scuffles without much time to recover.
Conclusion: If you liked/loved “RED” you will like/love “RED2”! All the great, quirky characters are back and getting into even more trouble. The film is full of action, quirky humor, and great stunts.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)