Saturday, July 20, 2013

Movie Review: "Red 2"

When Red hit movie theaters a few years ago, for some reason it barely registered on my radar. But after seeing a preview for the sequel about a month ago, I thought, well, better see the first one! We watched it on DVD a few weekends ago and absolutely loved it. So much fun...can't believe I missed it initially.

Needless to say, I became eager for the sequel, and I'm pleased to say that Red 2 is a worthy equal to its predecessor. While the plot is a little more complicated, and there are a few more villains to deal with, the movie is still a great deal of fun, with some terrific action, great laughs, and a cast that has terrific chemistry, even with a few new additions.

After the adventures of the first movie, retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and his adventure-loving girlfriend, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are settling into a life together that is a little more boring than either would care to admit. Luckily, chaos re-enters their lives with the return of Frank's old CIA compatriot, Marvin (John Malkovich). It's not long before Frank finds himself on the receiving end of gunfire and threats from government interrogator Jack Horton (Neal McDonough), who has been tasked with finding out the truth behind a secret government operation Frank and Marvin were involved with, one which apparently involves a nuclear weapon lost somewhere in the world.

The thing is, Frank and Marvin don't know anything about the operation. Not that that matters, of course. And although Frank gets the upper hand on Horton, it's not long before Horton has sent one of Frank's old revenge-minded nemeses, Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee), after him, and MI6 also has offered the deadly Victoria (the amazing Helen Mirren) a contract to kill him as well.

What's a guy gonna do? Get to the bottom of it, of course. And trying to uncover the truth takes Frank, Sarah, Marvin, and Victoria around the world, and into more than a few firefights, fistfights, car chases, and other misadventures. Frank wants to keep Sarah away from danger but doesn't quite understand how much she wants to be a part of the action, especially when his old flame, Russian intelligence agent Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones, plastered with foundation), surfaces. When they track down the person they believe will give them the answers they need, they get far more than they bargained for.

Willis is at his best when he plays the taciturn hero who just needs a little action to break him out of his shell. Parker is a lot of fun as the woman thirsting to be in the middle of the action but isn't sure if she's ready for the consequences, and she and Willis complement each other nicely. Malkovich has made his career in recent years playing quirky, eccentric characters, and his Marvin is no exception to that rule. Mirren doesn't have as much to do, but she tears into her role with great gusto and seriously kicks ass. And speaking of kicking ass, while Lee doesn't have as large a role as the others, he electrifies the movie when he's onscreen—and you'll never look at origami the same way again!

At its heart, Red 2 is the perfect summer movie—action-packed, funny, reasonably well-acted, fun, and it doesn't force you to think too hard. Can you really ask for anything more? It doesn't take itself too seriously, which is part of its charm. And truth be told, I would totally pay to see Red 3, so how about it, filmmakers?

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