Posted by

Allen Adams Allen Adams
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge staff writer


Red 2' a second-rate sequel

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Film fails to capture spirit, humor of the original

It's no secret that a Hollywood studio's primary objective is to make money. Art and entertainment come in far down the list of movie-making goals it's all about those box office receipts. And one of the easiest ways to make that money is to build a franchise property; launch a film that is successful, then bring back the characters, plots, formulas and what have you to make a sequel. And another. And another. On and on until every dollar has been squeezed out of the premise.

Unfortunately, what happens more often than not is that these premises aren't necessarily designed to be sturdy franchise foundations. Sometimes, one movie is enough to tell the story. But if that movie turns out to be a success, there will be a sequel. Rarely a good sequel, but a sequel nonetheless.

Which brings us to 'Red 2.'

Still-retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis, 'A Good Day to Die Hard') is embracing his new quiet lifestyle alongside his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker, TV's 'Weeds'). But his Costco-fueled reverie is soon brought to an explosive end by the reappearance of Frank's friend and former colleague Marvin (John Malkovich, 'Warm Bodies'). Almost instantly, Frank and Sarah are thrust back into the high-octane world of international espionage. It seems that the powers that be suspect Frank and Marvin of being involved in a secret operation known as 'Nightshade.'

Along the way, they reconnect with old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren, 'Hitchcock'), who warns them that they're on a high-level hit list. There's Frank's old flame Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones, 'Side Effects'), a Russian intelligence agent who may or may not be trying to help them. There's Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee, 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'), an elite assassin gunning for Frank's head. And of course, there's Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins, 'Hitchcock'), the scientist behind 'Nightshade' who might have some secrets of his own to reveal assuming he can be found.

Frank, Marvin and Sarah trot around the globe, searching everywhere for clues as to what 'Nightshade' is, how they might stop it and who might be able to help them all while doing their best not to get themselves killed.

One of the things that made 2010's 'Red' so entertaining was the spirit of irreverence that permeated the proceedings. The movie just felt like a lot of fun, with a tongue-in-cheek sensibility that kept it from ever feeling too self-serious. Unfortunately, while that sense of fun still crops up in the sequel, it's much more infrequent, giving way instead to an over-the-top bombast that tips the scales too far to one side. The balance that made the first film so much fun is lost; instead, we get a fairly typical (i.e. boring) action movie.

That's not to say that it's all bad. For the most part, the cast appears to be having a great deal of fun except maybe for Bruce Willis, who spends most of his time looking as if he's trying to figure out what he's going to have for dinner that night. However, the rest of the cast is clearly having a blast. Parker's enthusiasm is infectious and Malkovich is good here, just like always. And you can't tell me that Dame Helen Mirren isn't having a hell of a good time shooting machine guns and chopping dudes in the throat (there's also a Queen Elizabeth joke with Mirren than might be the funniest bit in the whole movie).

But the joyful work of the cast, while great to see, isn't nearly enough to elevate this movie up from mediocrity. While the quirkily conceived characters are fun to watch, the simple truth is that there's not a whole lot for them to do. The hole-riddled plot feels recycled at best and the few real bursts of humor only serve as a reminder of how much funnier (and better) the first one was.

'Red' made money, so 'Red 2' was inevitable. And now we can sit back and watch as these interesting, likable characters fall prey to the law of diminishing returns as the sequel shame spiral continues its long, slow spin to the bottom of the barrel.

1.5 out of 5


The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine