By Gary Murray
Starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins and Mary-Louise Parker
Written by Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber
Directed by Dean Parisot
Running time 116 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
Red was a 2010 hit that almost no one expected. It was a film that made it on my Top Ten Best of the Year list. It had all the elements one wants in an action/adventure film. There were stunts and explosions, romance and intrigue. It was just the kind of movie that wins over just about anyone who watches it. The sequel is called Red 2.
The story picks up a few years after the events of the last film. Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired agent trying to live a simple life in small town America. He is still with his damsel in distress Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). She still loves the man but is bored by his retired existence of shopping at Costco. She thought that his designation of Retired-Extremely Dangerous would have more fire.
To spark the film along, Marvin (John Malkovich) shows up and warns Frank that they are both in danger. Then an explosion happens and Marvin is killed. Frank believes that Marvin just faked his death but attends the funeral anyway, delivering a touching eulogy.
It seems that someone on the internet has stated that Frank and Marvin were involved in a plot called “Night Shade”. No one knows exactly what it is but everyone associated with it has been turning up dead. Every member is being hunted by Jack Horton (Neal McDonough). He is one evil killer who seems to enjoy his job a bit too much.
On the other side of the plot, Victoria (Helen Mirren) has been contacted by her government to take out both Frank and Marvin. She does the polite thing and calls them up, letting them know about the contact. The killing also has something to do with Night Shade.
In another part of the plot, Han (Byung Hun Lee) is the world’s most deadly assassin. He was trained by the best, Frank Moses. He is also contracted to take out Frank. All he wants it money and killing Frank will bring in a ton of cash. But there seems to be a personal score to settle with Frank.
The film Red 2 is just as much a mystery as it is an action flick. All the parties are looking for Frank and Marvin and at the same time they are looking for information on what exactly Night Shade is and why it is so important. It becomes a stunt cat and mouse game.
We eventually find that it is a relic from the Cold War and it is in Moscow. Our intrepid team of spies travels to the former USSR and meet up with Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She is Kryptonite to Frank, the woman who can push every one of his buttons. That little detail irritates Sarah. The clues lead to MI-6 and a prison.
A British scientist Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) knows what Night Shade is and has been locked up for that secret. So, our heroes must break him out. Victoria seems to be an ally but in the script for Red 2 nothing is exactly what it seems.
The story twists and turns with crosses and double crosses as it builds to the final conclusion. Much like a roller coaster, the film is more of a ride than a cinematic accomplishment. One is just supposed to grab on to the rails and go along for the thrill.
The film is much more a spectacle to hang a string of stunts on to than a fully thought out motion picture. It is not Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or the Bourne series as much as it is a Bond action piece. It is a heck of a lot of fun but makes little sense.
Of all our principles, Bruce Willis gets the most screen time. He is, once again, the man. He can fight one-on-one with the best of them and still look cool doing it. The film keeps the focus on his exploits and whether he is handling huge firepower or handling roaring horsepower he still keeps composure in any action scenario.
Though the part is small, Catherine Zeta-Jones makes a giant splash in her role as the Russian agent. She pouts and purrs like a sex kitten and still managed to find some dignity within the confines of the role. With her impish smile and feline eyes, she makes a perfect femme fatale in our little work of spy versus spy.
By far the most charming individual of Red 2 is Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah. Her character changes the most from the last film and she has become much more of an adrenalin junkie. She is the odd person out in Red 2 but still has the ability to adapt.
Red 2 is a decent sequel but probably not a Top Ten film for 2013. It has many of the same elements of the first film but is a bit of a let down from how original the first episode seemed. There are shades of ‘been there, done that’ and the freshness of the first film is a little stale in the second episode.