Who said that I was so much of a comic book fan that I would never learn to truly appreciate an adaptation that only uses its characters with a different tempo from its source material? Well, I liked the first RED film and it was totally different from the source material (published by DC-Vertigo) in mood and tone. Making it as an action comedy enhanced its charm and arguably made it a little better than the source material with the same name. The film became quite successful that it even acquired a small cult following and this is where this sequel simply called “RED 2” comes in with director Dean Parisot. I find it quite odd that the original film’s director Robert Schwentke faced off with “RED 2” with his “R.I.P.D” for this weekend. Well, let’s just say that Schwentke chose the wrong side of this comic book face off since “RED 2” has proven to be superior to that sorry excuse for a comic book flick.
The film picks up where the first film had left off as we see Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) having a fun time at a Costco with his sweetheart, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker, hey she was also in RIPD) when they are approached by Frank’s best friend and former colleague, Marvin Boggs (John Malcovich). Marvin warns them that something is amiss, and sure enough, the trio is found on the run from the government and Lord knows who else. Frank, Sarah and Marvin must seek out the help of both friends and enemies and former friends and enemies to try to get to the bottom of operation: Nightshade. With a government operative (Neal McDonough), the world’s deadliest assassin, Han (Lee Byung-Hun,I Saw The Devil) and even their old buddy Victoria (Helen Mirren, The Debt) hot on their trail, they must get to the bottom of this secret before they end up dead.
Secrets, madmen and old friends and old enemies are all devices that carry a large chunk in the film’s plot. The film takes the three main protagonists on a ride around the world to uncover this secret that threaten the balance of power. Carrying a fair amount of darkness in its storyline, and despite its unoriginality, he screenplay manages to hold my attention mostly because of the way the characters interacted and just how the plot becomes developed. The film is all about the race to have the advantage in global power with a madman setting such things in play, as the trio of Frank, Marvin and Sarah makes things up as they go along to try to avoid disaster. The original may have more of that "sly appeal", and the plot in this film may feel familiar, but when the action went on, it managed to have that playful tone to make the scenes more entertaining.
True to the tempo and mood of the first film, the film continues to have the same dry and clever humor that made it successful. The humor is subtle and felt very natural, I had no issues buying in to the way the characters interacted, and even when I thought several things required a suspension of disbelief, I was just too busy being adored by its characters. There is just something so amusing and delightful when you see these senior citizens doing what they need to do that even when I noticed some plot missteps that usually would be bother me, I was just distracted as to how the film carried that playful tempo despite the seriousness of the situation. Willis, Malcovich and Parker bonded perfectly that even their light conversations happen to be funny moments in the film. They banter, the joke and they are sarcastic, and yet the interactions felt very natural and this made the characters quite lovable in their own way. The dialogue in the film is what made it work as well as the antics of Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) who presents some oddball humor that sets up its twists quite beautifully.
“RED 2” also has several scenes of action and stunts that blends well with its comedic tone, but when it wanted to get serious, it could. Lee Byung-Hun stole the show as the badass assassin who has former links to Moses. He made quite an impression in the action set pieces and I think the film may have lacked power if it wasn’t for his presence. It was fun to see Helen Mirren play the opposite side to Lee’s bad “assessery“, as she made the action much more elegant that almost goes against Lee’s powerful ‘juggernaut’ strength in the execution of the action. Willis does get to do some action, but here, he was here to show up for his personality and smarts. Willis, Parker and Malcovich came together and without one or the other, they wouldn’t have been successful. Catherine Zeta-Jones was a little underused in the script, but she found her footing as the woman who is Frank’s “kryptonite” which gives more flavor to the Sarah-Frank dynamic than the usual ex-spy-lover thing.
Explosions, gunfire and a weapon of mass destruction. That is all what one is in for with “RED 2“. I would not go as far as to say that it is better than the first film, but it sure comes pretty close. It does a great job in developing its characters and introduces new ones into the mix that there may be a possibility of another sequel. This film is just pure entertainment, and really, who wouldn’t like to see retired ex-spies take on young guys? “RED 2” is exactly what it wants to be, pure entertainment that comes from playful comedy and clever action scenes. On this it is a success that it gets a mild recommendation from me. [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
The first RED movie out in 2010 was a great if tame action movie coming off of a summer glut of crazy films like The Expendables and Machete. This RED film is in the middle of summer and helping to buoy a rather sagging summer by comparison short of super dumb films like Pacific Rim. It's a good thing too since this RED is even better then the first. RED (Retired. Extremely. Dangerous) follows Frank Moses again played by Willis who is trying to settle back down into … more