If you read my last review, you will know I loved the original ‘RED’, which left me feeling rather optimistic about the sequel. I know sequels have a tendency to fall short and falter in the areas which the first film succeeded, and ‘RED 2’ was certainly guilty of that at times, but there were still plenty of redeeming features to make this an enjoyable film.
As in the original film, there are multiple storylines and plot twists to ‘RED 2’, but unfortunately these are not nearly as satisfying as those of the predecessor. The various storylines also seem to drag on a bit too long too. The premise of the film is much the same as the original concept – retired agents rolling back the years – but the problem this time is that the story is no longer fresh or original, and therefore not as interesting. The sequel is more crazy however. This time around, another, more deadly and disturbed government agent is hunting down Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and his crew, with many of the characters from the original reprising their roles as well as a few new faces.
Once again, I marvel at how amazing Helen Mirren is as the strong, female assassin Victoria. From the moment she gets involved, the film drastically improves. Anthony Hopkins is one of the new additions, and he does a fantastic job, as you would expect from an actor of his pedigree. John Malkovich and Bruce Willis work well together; they have this special blend of crazy and serious that I really enjoy. Mary-Louise Parker is just as adorable and fun as the last time, but I never really understood Catherine Zeta-Jones’ involvement. Some of the characters are more defined than others, but a couple of the villains are just straight-up cartoonish, and I don’t like that. Part of the reason I enjoy these films is because you get to see older actors kicking the ass of the new generation. This movie still allows for a substantial amount of that, but also gives room for the younger actors to get their action scenes too.
The element of humor is still present from the previous film, but it doesn’t combine as effectively with the violence as it did in the first outing. There are actually a couple of violent scenes that actually bother me in this film, whereas the original toed the line perfectly. ‘RED 2’ feels much more like a comic book coming to life, which is a reasonable approach, given that the story is based on a comic book. However, whilst the first movie kept that fact more in check, this time it seems the director just wants to have fun and show off all the neat action scenes it can.
Now despite the flaws I mentioned, don’t completely dismiss this movie just yet. As I said before, there is plenty about it which is worthwhile and while ‘RED 2’ doesn’t hold up as well as the original, it isn’t actually a bad movie. There is some decent humor scattered throughout the movie and a lot of great action. In truth, this film is probably best left to the people who enjoyed the original film. If you didn’t like that one, then you almost certainly won’t enjoy this one. But if you did enjoy the original, the characters you love are still here (and as awesome as ever), and the action and humor are still here too. Change isn’t always a good thing.
DIRECTOR: DEAN PARISOT
STARRING: BRUCE WILLIS, HELEN MIRREN, CATHERINE ZETA-JONES, MARY-LOUISE PARKER, JOHN MALKOVICH, ANTHONY HOPKINS