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Review: Red 2 (2013)

Red 2 (2013)

Directed by: Dean Parisot

Premise: A sequel to the 2010 film. The group of aged assassins (Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren) go on the run when they are misidentified as terrorists and targeted for assassination by the government.

What Works: One of the new characters introduced in Red 2 is a spy played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was a former love of Bruce Willis’ character. The love triangle between Zeta-Jones, Willis, and Mary-Louise Parker is amusing and the competition between the two women gives Red 2 a few of its better moments. Returning to Red 2 is John Malkovich as a paranoid explosives expert. Malkovich is underappreciated for his comic capabilities and his dry delivery is one of the few elements of the first film that carries over successfully into the sequel.

What Doesn’t: The original Red was not a great picture but it was fun and a solidly entertaining piece of popcorn moviemaking given an extra bounce by its great cast. Unfortunately, the original film did not suggest a sequel and the filmmakers of the follow-up never bothered to come up with a good reason to continue this story. The proof of that is on the screen and Red 2 is an all-around terrible film. Key to the success of the original Red was the presence of talent like Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, and John Malkovich, actors who are not typically associated with shoot-‘em-up movies. Seeing these actors involved in car chases and shootouts gave the first movie a certain charm, but that was only good for one movie and in the sequel the novelty has completely evaporated. Because the gimmick of the first movie is used up, it is incumbent on the filmmakers to develop these characters and come up with a solid story but they fail miserably. Red 2 is stupid and it makes no sense. The premise is that these black-ops retirees are targeted for assassination when a leaked government document exposes a decades-old covert military operation. There is no reason that the government has to kill these characters and instead of hiding or trying to clear their names, the team goes on a mission that takes them from America to Paris to Russia to Britain, although what exactly they are trying to accomplish is never clear. Rather than recalling a James Bond movie, the absurd twists and airplane-hopping of Red 2 most closely resemble a Dan Brown movie like The Da Vinci Code. And like a Dan Brown adaptation, the mystery of Red 2 is a mess that just gets more convoluted as it goes along with characters making stupid decisions in absurd situations. Red 2 also suffers from glaring plot holes and logical lapses. Early in the story the team steals a private jet and uses it to get around for the rest of the movie but apparently this jet has no pilot or other crew. In other parts of the movie, car chases don’t reach an ending so much as they just stop and characters get shot and stabbed but their injuries magically heal. Red 2 ends on an absolutely absurd sequence in which a nuclear bomb is detonated about a mile in the air, supposedly saving the day. Any viewer with just a layman’s understanding of nuclear weapons should realize that this is going to cause devastating fallout that is going to rain down on the heroes while they celebrate surviving the movie. If that weren’t bad enough, the kill order on the heroes remains when the movie ends, meaning that the prompt for the whole story is never resolved. Aside from all these storytelling problems, Red 2 is a poorly made action picture. The editing is amateurish with obvious continuity problems between shots and the action sequences are poorly done. There is no style to the violence and for a movie about spies and nuclear weapons, Red 2 is really boring.

Bottom Line: Red 2 is a frustratingly bad movie with a stupid script, uninteresting characters, and uninspired action. Its terribleness is all the worse when compared to its superior predecessor. This is sloppy moviemaking that just isn’t acceptable in a major studio release with such high profile stars.

Episode: #449 (July 28, 2013)