Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars
The loveable sociopaths of the CIA retirement home are back with some fresh new villains and killing machines accompanying them for the ride. This sequel to 2010’s “RED” once again showcases the elderly handing out some ass kickings, though with less charm and wit than the original.
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is trying out the normal life. Shopping at CostCo and trying to find the latest gadget to put in his home. His girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), who is still coming down from the adrenaline rush of the events in “RED”, is not as enthusiastic about settling down and making dinner. As the film starts, the paranoid Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) springs up, trying to sway Frank back into the spy game. As much as Frank says no, he really doesn’t have much of a choice because, as in the first film, he’s a marked man. The cold war era has come back to haunt him. A recently released document shows a portable nuclear device is missing and everyone’s pointing their fingers at Frank and Marvin.
As in “RED,” the film is peppered with both well known and B-list actors to supply the excitement. Jack Horton (Neal MacDonough) is tasked with capturing Frank, but realizes even a squad of machine gun wielding men can’t stop an unarmed Bruce Willis. Also hot on the trail of Frank is Han Jo-Bae (Lee Byung-hun), who has a personal vendetta against him. During Frank and Marvin’s journey to find out more about this lost WMD, they track down a diabolical wine connoisseur who is known simply as The Frog (David Thewlis). The trio also accidentally bump into one of Frank’s former flames, Miranda (Catherine Zeta-Jones). We’re also treated to the best character in the movie, Edward Bradley (Anthony Hopkins). He’s a delusional former scientist who might just hold the whereabouts to the weapon.
During “RED” the characters traversed the United States. This sequel takes us first class on a wild trip around the world that touches down multiple times in three continents. It’s a visual step up, but our time in each city is short lived. Before we’re given enough time to chew on some of the scenery or digest any fresh details to the story, we’re back on the plane to another exotic location to have more exposition crammed in our gullets. When the flames die down and the guns run out of ammo, the movie hits the brakes hard.
The returning cast lack that spark of excitement and that innate taste of chaos they seemed to bathe in with “RED”. The first was obviously an introductory piece to this fantastic world of geriatric spies and assassins. Without any graphic novel to really fall back on, the writers (the Hoeber brothers) pretty much had free range to do whatever they want. So, they opted for a bland imitation of the first script. They had a chance to scratch away at the surface and find some nuggets of fun, smiling insanity. Instead the characters act out hollow versions of their previous selves when their guns are in their holsters. You’ll find yourself re-adjusting in your seat when Frank wonders aloud if he can keep Sarah safe from this horrible predicament. Yes you can. Now give her a gun.
Even though this isn’t a step-up from the original, it’s still great to see the trio of Frank, Martin and Sarah bicker and quip at each during a gun battle. It’s also still fun that every character introduction or entrance into a scene comes with screaming, bullet hole ridden furniture and shattered glass. It was a blast at the theater, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that these characters deserved better. So, if you’re looking for the same chuckles, violent eye candy and seeing some of your favorite aging actors embody James Bond or Rambo, give “RED 2” a look.