Director: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee
Written by: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, (based on the characters created by) Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner
Running Time: 116 mins
Release date: 2nd August 2013
The mildly successful 2010 action comedy RED was a fun, kooky but ultimately instantly forgettable experience. Throw-away cinema, if you will. I know it was instantly forgettable because I has to revisit the film before venturing the sequel and I couldn’t remember much about it. So now we have the sequel with mostly the same cast doing the same thing in a film that is mostly the same as the first. Except this time it’s brain-numbingly dull and instantly forgettable.
Frank Moses wants a quiet life with girl-friend Sarah but his former CIA operative and paranoid partner, Marvin, wants him back in the game of shooting and violence. It’s pretty soon that they find themselves the target of professional hit men who want them dead all because of an operation in the 70s called Nightshade, a nuclear device that has gone missing. Frank, Marvin and Sarah must travel the world in order to find the creator of the bomb while dodging threats and bullets from those who want them dead.
The joy of the first film was watching usually professional actors with careers in serious and dramatic theatre/cinema throwing caution to the wind and joining the long line of action stars. I mean, who wouldn’t be thrilled to see Dame Helen Mirren with a big gun? This is also the major problem with Red 2. It relies on the same stars wielding big guns. Only this time we have that “seen it” attitude and are craving for something more. That something more never appears.
The other thing that made RED a pleasure was it’s off-the-wall humour. In places it was very funny. Here, the humour seems to have been sucked out and disposed of in a bin somewhere. Hardly once did I even raise a smile, let alone laugh. This time it just seems a poor excuse to have aging film stars running around acting like they are in their thirties in different countries in order to make it look more interesting than it is. Sadly, it didn’t work.
This has to be the dullest action film of the year, if not the decade. Having had the ante lifted in action sequences by the likes of Bourne and Bond, this looks dated and unoriginal.
So surely the cast can lift it out of the doldrums? Well, no they can’t. Bruce Willis is, well, Bruce Willis. Nothing more, nothing less and wanders around like he’s on autopilot and can’t wait to get off the film and spend his pay cheque. John Malkovich, who normally is good value, just mugs at the camera in the vein attempt to get some humour because very little of what is coming out of his mouth is funny. Even Ms Mirren seems to be going through the motions, although she still adds a touch of class.
Newcomers Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins don’t help matters either. Ms Jones, who looks like she chose the wrong colour bronzer, puts on a funny accent as a Russian while trying to hide her bad fringe while Anthony Hopkins, playing a batty professor, does what he does, only with no real effect at all.
It’s left, surprising (or not) to Byung-hun Lee as a top assassin to inject some well needed excitement into the proceedings with some choice martial arts moves and the star of the previous film, Mary-Louise Parker. If there is one reason to see this sequel, it is for her. She is the only one who is funny, who actually believes in what she is doing and is hard to draw your eyes away from when she is on screen. Without her, this would have been a 1 star movie.
I don’t believe that Red 2 will set the box office alight and that may be a saving grace because unless a decent director and a stronger script can be found, Red 3 will end up heading direct to DVD where this really should have belonged. Retired Extremely Dangerous is what RED stands for. In fact it should stand for Really Extremely Dull.