RED stands for Retired, Extremely Dangerous. In this sequel, retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reunites with his unlikely team of elite operatives for some globe trotting to track down a missing portable nuclear device –The Nightshade.
If you’ve seen the 2010 edition of RED, this sequel may be easier to follow but more entertaining if you haven’t, says my plus one, who hasn’t seen the original.
Red 2 wastes little time in bringing back characters that clearly survived or had just appeared to have died in the first film. When an action packed movie is mixed with a cast that includes Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins, the result does not fall short for summer entertainment. Hopkins plays the role of Bailey, a weapons scientist dubbed the “rock star of conceptual mass-killing” and “the Da Vinci of death.” The sequel also features Catherine Zeta Jones as a Russian agent. Byung-hun Lee has also been roped in, as a Korean assassin on Willis’ trail. He adds little to the plot. Perhaps his feature has been added to generate a buzz and rake in some business with the overseas market.
Things don’t look so perilous this time around for Frank, who had retired for the quiet life with his girlfriend and assassin wannabe Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker). The two meet ex-agent Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who is fond of feigning his demise. This time, the mission is to get their hands on Nightshade so it won’t fall into the wrong hands. If you haven’t seen the original, Nightshade is a nuclear device that was created by Bailey (Hopkins). It is fuelled by red mercury, as opposed to the run-of-the-mill nuclear devices. To succeed, the team will have to survive an army of relentless assassins, ruthless terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the next-generation weapon.
The mission takes Frank and his motley crew to Paris, London and Moscow. Out-gunned and out-manned, they have only their cunning wits, their old-school skills, and each other to rely on as they try to save the world and stay alive in the process.
Want to break into Moscow’s The Kremlin – A complex that serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation? Just crack a hole in the wall of a pizzeria bathroom next door. Need to go inside an insane asylum? Put Helen Mirren in a crown and have her pretend to be the Queen of England (of course). But Mirren seems to be having fun parodying her more serious characters. Hopkins also seems to be enjoying himself. The witty dialogue between the veterans is entertaining, but may be a bit over-done. Having Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins with a below-standard script is a master-stroke that works. Both actors were brilliant in their own rights. They brought in their own flair, which made their scenes in particular, gripping.
The cast seems to genuinely enjoy the age defying material, as well as working with each other. Parker and Catherine Zeta-Jones, in particular, are terrific as competing women who know how to break a heart as well as a nose.
It all nearly comes undone towards the end as our heroes and villains engage in increasingly ludicrous combat scenes. But credits to Willis and Malkovich for keeping a grinning game-face throughout. The two have the good-natured chemistry of buddy cops.
Walking out of the theatre as the credits roll, this reviewer is reminded only of the cast that makes the movie what it is – a few Oscar winners having fun with their less serious characters as they are thrown into a lot of butt-kicking, a lot of car chasing and a lot more gun slinging.
Red Two might be a big upset for those who love action movies. However, if you’re a fan of any of the stars in the film, disappointment may not necessarily be the conclusion. Willis, Mirren, Hopkins, Zeta Jones, Malkovich and Parker definitely spell entertainment. Each actor showed their own chops, proving Red 2 to be more of a fun watch, rather than a thriller of an action flick.