Red 2 Reviews
If you haven't seen the first film, you can still enjoy this piece. You won't understand all of the relationships immediately, but the story stands on its own. And it does a very good job at that.
The movie was so much fun. It had clever and well-thought out jokes throughout the film. The jokes kept coming and were very skillfully timed.
The action was thrilling. Along with the jokes, non-stop action to get your blood pumping filled this film. They kept the same feel of cool, unreasonable stunts and explosions from the first movie, but they also added a lot more hand-to-hand combat, which was still very amusing to watch and excellently choreographed.
The acting was great and the story was well-written with actual twists. The soundtrack and sound effects made all the guns and explosions that much more convincing and enjoyable.
This film had a much higher body count than the last one, but still managed to keep it pretty light-hearted. If you liked the first one, this film will not disappoint. If you haven't seen the first one it's still very entertaining to watch. 4 Stars 3-23-14
Into this market driven by nostalgia and the need for pension plans comes Red 2, a sequel to one of the more slow-burning hits of 2010. Reuniting the original cast with a couple of new faces, it aims to bring a more overtly comic-book feel to a sub-genre built around nuts-and-bolts action thriller plots. The result is a little disappointing, not to say a little dull, but it's not without a few good moments.
As much as I objected to Taken, on grounds both structural and moral, I fully acknowledge the appeal of seeing older action stars - nay, just older actors - on screen in prominent, active and entertaining roles. Because so much of mainstream cinema is shaped around the demands of teenage boys, the range of roles available to actors becomes more restricted as they age. Unless you want to carve out a career playing Basil Exposition or people's grandparents, you're pretty much dead in the water by the age of 50.
A good benchmark from this perspective would be the films of Nigel Cole, such as Saving Grace and Calendar Girls. Both of these films are driven by older characters, who conform to some generic conventions but still feel like real people. While neither of these films are the most disciplined or structurally sound, they tell interesting stories which charm us and lead us to forgive or overlook their shortcomings.
While Cole's output wins outright in a fight over well-written female characters, Red 2 does have as much going for it behind the camera. Dean Parisot's output has been uneven, but he did helm the highly entertaining Galaxy Quest, once described by J. J. Abrams as "one of the best Star Trek movies ever made". Alan Silvestri, the film's composer, has a great record with Robert Zemeckis and more recently with Marvel. And the film is shot by Enrique Chediak, who did a really good job on 127 Hours and 28 Weeks Later.
Sadly, for all this build-up, none of the talent involved in Red 2 comes close to matching their reputations, on either side of the camera. Whatever the merits of its predecessor, this film is ultimately rather lacklustre in both its story and execution. While it's assembled in a workable enough manner to pass a couple of hours, it is in the end pretty forgettable fare, and considering who is involved that is the last thing that it should be.
Part of the problem lies in the attitudes of the cast. Todd Gilcrist wrote in his review that Bruce Willis "seems unmotivated to smile at all, much less offer a series of emotions that constitute a believable or compelling performance." While you may not agree with Gilcrist word for word, he does hit the nail on the head: none of the actors look like they're having fun. That wouldn't be a problem if the film were a sombre, depressing existential parable, but it is a problem when you're trying to make an upbeat action thriller with lots of jokes.
Much like Sean Connery, Willis is an actor who clearly betrays when he does and doesn't want to be in a given film. When he's confident in a script or having a blast on set, such as in Die Hard, Twelve Monkeys or Looper, he holds himself much more precisely and seems far more natural in his movements. When he's doing something purely because he needs the money, he slumps his shoulders, narrows his eyes and is much less responsive to his fellow actors. While this is by no means his worst performance, let alone his worst film, it does give off vibes of him only doing the part because he has to be that.
It's not just Willis that seemingly doesn't want to be involved. John Malkovich has been tetchy and irritable in other films (such as Shadow of the Vampire), but there's a weariness to his performance here which doesn't gel with the character's dynamic dialogue. Helen Mirren doesn't get a greal deal to do, and her attempts at deadpan humour just come across as flat readings. The only main actor who commits and engages to the required level is Byung-hun Lee, and his character seems to have escaped from a far better, far more interesting film.
The plot of Red 2 is decidedly episodic. Much of the film is built around set-pieces, either involving Lee's character wanting revenge on Willis or a third party becoming the target of either side. The set-pieces are technically accomplished, with good pyrotechnics, decent CGI and some realistic sound design, but there's not enough of any substance to link them together in a meaningful manner. To borrow from Shakespeare, it's a lot of sound and fury, signifying very little.
In slightly different hands, this could have been handled better. The red mercury buried beneath the Kremlin is a neat little plot device, and Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins do wring the most they can out of their supporting roles, channeling the more thoughtful, more British spies present in The Ipcress File. All the little twists involving people changing sides which could have been used to drive the film are instead presented like the action sequences - as distractions, and nothing more.
The same goes for the romantic subplot-cum-love triangle that the script tries to tease out. There is potential (albeit well-worn potential) in both the female characters' main conceits, i.e. the inept love interest who finds herself caught up in events, and the old flame who puts the cat among the pigeons. But while Catherine Zeta-Jones takes to her costume well, it's ultimately a lot of under-developed flash, and Mary-Louise Parker isn't all that convincing.
In the midst of all this, it is more than possible to enjoy Red 2 as empty, disposable spectacle. It's clearly not trying (and failing) to make a lot of important political points, and its lack of pretension is to be applauded as much as its lack of ambition should be decried. If you only go to the cinema to see explosions, car crashes and famous people in various slow-motion poses, this will satisfy your appetite.
Red 2 is a disappointing action thriller which finds both cast and director falling short of their past potential. While the action is technically sound and there are a few witty or impressive moments (mainly involving Lee's character), it's ultimately too lackadaisical and episodic to cut the mustard. In the end it's not a bad film per se, just an aimless one which could have been a lot better with a tighter script and a stronger hand at the helm.
Mission status: your bog standard, obligatory, run of the mill, over the top James Bond type secret agent tomfoolery with 'Mission: Impossible' styled stunts and vehicle chase sequences. Throw in light-hearted comedy to soften the violence and utilise lots of age jokes.
I think the problem here is firstly this genre is so so so so so so utterly and completely flooded with so many films that are all the same with the same action sequences, its just dull. There is absolutely nothing exciting about watching these aged actors pretending to be action heroes, under layers and layers of makeup attempting to make them look young and fit whilst the whole time its simply watching stunt doubles. I mean really, what's the point? half the film isn't the actual cast!.
Willis clearly doesn't care anymore, the guy is done, past it and doesn't care about acting, he should retire. Louise-Parker is the most annoying female I've come across since Sandra Bullock, she merely smirks, grins and acts coy the entire time, that's all she and Willis do! perform awkwardly as a couple together, its dreadful. Watching Mirren is literately like watching my gran (God rest her soul) in an action flick! its embarrassing. The only person to have more makeup on than Mirren was Zeta-Jones who looked like a frankfurter, how much makeup Jones?? it doesn't make you any sexier or a better actress, give it up.
Only good old Malkovich still manages to shine with his bumbling trigger happy persona and Hopkins isn't too bad as the under assuming scientist type with a secret. But wait! the powers that be have really gone to town this time and have tried to hire every aged/aging British thesp they can get their hands on. Enter Thewlis as some other secret agent bloke who is a dab hand with a gun...unsurprisingly. Cox is also back again as Mirren's Russian love interest but does nothing accept sniff her boots.
After all that we have Lee Byung-Hun who really sticks out like a sore thumb. A primed firm fit buff martial artist who can take down hordes of men single handed yet can't defeat old man Willis. Surely this dude could and should kill the whole team without breaking sweat, its like he should be in a totally different movie.
Nothing of much interest happens for the whole film in all honesty, a few fights, a few shootouts, a dash of lame comedy, Willis and Parker displaying some of the worst acting you've ever seen etc...Its only at the end do we see some fast n furious action...errr in the form of a 'Fast n Furious' styled car chase sequence...in a Lotus that came outta nowhere. The action is hyper yet dumb, so very dumb. I love the standard modern action movie cliches of bad guys spraying these fancy cars with machine gun fire yet no damage is visible, plus no one ever thinks to shoot out the tyres. The less said about the hideous helicopter crash that Willis and co walk away from the better, oh so they are invincible super agents after all.
A complete and utter rehash of the first film which somehow manages to be less exciting, not as funny and with tired performance from Willis. First film was quite quirky and fun seeing these old boys kick ass, now its just deflated and repetitive. There just doesn't seem to be any point to this films existence other than simply to try and make more money, just crank out another, no thought, no worries, roll out more of the same, no one will notice or care...its got Bruce Willis in it.
Great Movie! If you liked the first Red, you will like this second in the series. Trust me on this. It was funny, witty, snappy, lively, sarcastic, engrossing and entertaining. The cast is superb! The new characters make the movie even more enjoyable than the first one while the relationship between Frank and Sarah is well tested and explored! I also loved the fact that the scriptwriters decided to expand the action in different cities outside the US, like Moscow and Paris. In total, RED 2 is much better than the first one, and I really love the first film. You should check it out if you like funny, entertaining and action packed movies! You won't regret it!
While trying to lead a normal life with girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is approached by Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who is afraid that there are people following them, but Frank shrugs him off. After appealing a second time, Marvin drives off, but his car is blown up. Sarah convinces Frank, who does not believe Marvin is dead, to go to Marvin's funeral, and after the funeral, Frank is taken to be interrogated at a Yankee White Facility. During the interrogation, Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) appears, killing most of the facility's personnel, and tells Frank that he will torture Sarah in order to get information out of Frank. Frank manages to escape with the help of Marvin, who turns out to be alive, and they go on the run with Sarah. Marvin explains that he and Frank were being hunted down because they were listed as participants in a secret operation codenamed Nightshade. The operation was conducted in the Cold War in order to smuggle a nuclear weapon into Russia piece by piece. Victoria (Helen Mirren) calls and tells them she has accepted a contract from MI6 to kill Frank. Meanwhile, top contract killer Han Jo-bae (Lee Byung-hun) is given a contract to kill Frank as well.
Frank, Marvin, and Sarah travel to Paris to track down a man nicknamed "The Frog" (David Thewlis), with Han, whose plane they stole, and the Americans on their tails. As they arrive in Paris, they are stopped by Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Russian secret agent who Frank had a relationship with earlier in his career. Katya is in search of Nightshade as well, and teams up with them to find The Frog. After The Frog flees from them, Frank and Katya catch him and bring him back to his house, where Sarah succeeds in wooing him to help them. The Frog gives them the key to his security box, which Katya attempts to take from Frank after drugging him, but Marvin gives her a fake key. He, Frank, and Sarah find documents in the security box which point to Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant physicist, as the creator of the bomb involved with Operation Nightshade.
They find out that Bailey is still alive, having been held in an asylum for the criminally insane in London for thirty-two years. After arriving in London, the trio are confronted by Victoria, but Victoria helps to fake their deaths. Victoria then poses as an insane woman in order to gain access to the asylum. Frank and Victoria meet Bailey, who is hyperactive and does not respond to their questions. After a while, Bailey reveals that the bomb is still in Moscow. They go to Moscow, and after a close call with Han, Bailey comes to the conclusion that he hid the bomb in the Kremlin. They break into the Kremlin, and Bailey locates the bomb, but as they are about to leave, they are stopped by Katya. Frank convinces her to return to their side As they celebrate their success, Victoria calls Frank from London and tells him that Bailey was locked up because he wanted to see the bomb go off. Bailey holds Frank at gunpoint and confirms Victoria's message, revealing that he made a deal with Horton and the Americans to leave with the bomb. He then shoots Katya, staging her death at Frank's hands, and leaves. Horton reneges on his deal with Bailey, intending to question him, but Bailey escapes by using a nerve agent he created. Bailey moves to the Iranian embassy in London, and as Frank attempts to follow, he is confronted by Han, and after a fistfight, Frank asks Han to join sides with him and stop the bomb. Han eventually relents, and they set in place a plan to recapture Bailey and the bomb.
Sarah seduces the Iranian ambassador and takes him hostage on the pretext of women's rights in Iran. Marvin sets in place a diversion, and the rest come in disguise to "fix" the problem. When they arrive, they discover that Bailey has set the bomb timer off. Bailey kidnaps Sarah and goes to the airport to escape the imminent explosion. Frank, Marvin, Victoria, and Han give chase, but are themselves chased by guards from the embassy. After they escape, they arrive at the airport, and Frank saves Sarah from Bailey, but is forced by him to take the bomb off the plane. They reunite with Marvin, Victoria, and Han and wait for their imminent deaths, but the bomb explodes in the air. Frank reveals that he sneaked the bomb on the plane. The movie closes with a scene showing Sarah enjoying herself on a mission with Frank and Marvin.
Nate's Grade: C+