Robert Schwentke’s RED appeared to come out of nowhere and unexpectedly entertain critics and audiences alike back in 2010. Now Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Paker show they’re still Retired and Extremely Dangerous. This time they’ve brought Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lee Byung-hun along for the ride, upping the stakes and taking the action global.
Dean Parisot may replace Schwentke in the director’s chair, but RED 2, like its predecessor, is great fun. The cast is having a great time, and the performances, while not Academy Award worthy are top-notch for this type of summer fun.
RED 2 sees Frank Moses (Willis) and his old pal, Marvin Boggs (Malkovich) framed for an ‘80s era nuclear threat called Operation Nightshade. Someone has published forged documents on Wikileaks (how timely) and now the US, British and Russian governments are on their tails. They team-up once again with classy assassin, Victoria (Mirren), while Frank’s old flame, Katya (Zeta-Jones), a Russian spy soon causes trouble. However, things get really complicated when Frank’s girlfriend Sarah (Parker) wants to become an integral part of the mission.
RED 2 is great entertainment. It’s always good to see movies with a cast over the average age of twenty-two, and it’s even better to see a summer blockbuster cater for a more mature (but no less fun-loving audience). The global threat ups the ante, meaning that there’s room for many (physics defying) action set-pieces.
Willis and Malkovich make a great double act – why has it taken so long for these guys to share the screen? Meanwhile, Mirren is clearly relishing her new-found action heroine status, whilst also making fun of her Royal persona. Parker has the most to do here, range-wise and she makes a good foil for the crazy action that surrounds her. Byung-hun really ticks (and kicks) the right boxes as the suave Korean James Bond type – surely there’s a spin-off here waiting to happen. Zeta-Jones and Hopkins fare less well. There’s just so much going on, that it feels their characters should have been saved for RED 3. They’re not bad, just under developed.
If RED 2 has a flaw, it’s that there’s too much excitement on screen – but I don’t mind that in a summer movie. It’s a time for cinematic excess and I can’t imagine a better time spent than munching popcorn and watching these guys on screen kicking ass. The tone is just right, the chemistry spot-on and each set piece ups the ante until we get to the obligatory world-saving finale.
RED 2 is as much fun as you’ll have in a cinema this summer. Check your brain at the door, kick back and enjoy.