This week, I went to my local theater to check out the new movie RED 2, the sequel to the underrated but thoroughly enjoyable action comedy based upon a graphic novel of the same name.
After the events of the last movie, retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and the love interest of the first movie, Sarah (Mary-Louise Paker) have hit a slump in their relationship. Frank’s desperately trying to settle down while Sarah is looking for the excitement and danger that brought them together in the first movie.
They get their chance when Frank’s forced back into action when a document gets leaked that erroneously says that Frank and Marvin Boggs (John Goddamn Malkovich) took part in an operation during the Cold War to smuggle a nuke into Russia. Marvin, Sarah, and Frank set out to figure out who leaked the document, what happened to this bomb, and who’s trying to kill them. Action and hilarity ensues. Overall, I think the film wasn’t as good as the first movie. It’s still a decent and entertaining film, but it doesn’t capture the laid-back mood or the comedy of the original.
There are a lot of good moments and great performances. John Malkovich is absolutely fantastic, so is Helen Mirren- though her role is heavily reduced. The weak points in the cast are Catherine Zeta-Jones and leading man Bruce Willis. Zeta-Jones is bland, flat, and absolutely forgettable (though thankfully she’s not in the movie that much); while Willis looks just so bored with everything that’s going on.
The rest of the supporting cast does a decent enough job, I suppose: Newcomer Byung-Hun Lee is fun to watch in the action scenes and has some pretty good comedic moments. Neil McDonough plays a totally superfluous character who seems to be a direct recreation of his character from season 3 of Justified.
Two very surprisingly satisfying performances were from Mary-Louise Parker and Anthony Hopkins. In the first movie, Parker basically played an audience surrogate that was along for the ride. But in the sequel, she gets a whole lot more to do than be dead weight. She has this whole thing where she wants to be part of the crew and actually proves to be a real asset. It’s not much, but it’s more than last movie. Hopkins shows his comedy chops off with a very dedicated and delightful performance as the movie’s villain (I’m not going to put a spoiler on that because the trailer already ruins the “twist”). He’s hammy, but not too over-the-top and actually enjoyable.
The movie replaces the smart comedy of its predecessor with trite, cliched dialogue and excessive, dumb action sequences. I guess that I would tentatively recommend this movie- but maybe when it comes out on Netflix or TV. It’s enjoyable, but nothing extraordinary or memorable.
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