That A-list cast of “retired, extremely dangerous” spies is back offering full value for your ticket! There’s Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Lee Byung-Hun, David Thewlis, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
There’s even two cannibal Hannibal’s for the price of one, with Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins also starring.
The film is another amiable but uninspired action-comedy. It may be occasionally funny, but the script is so lazy that it never does anything with the characters or situations. So there’s never even a hint of suspense.
In the years since the events of 2010’s RED, Frank (Willis) has been trying to live quietly with Sarah (Parker). But trouble seeks them out when their pal Marvin (Malkovich) is the target of a car bomb, and Frank discovers that MI6 and the CIA have sent assassins to kill him: his ruthless former colleague Victoria (Mirren) and the fiendishly unstoppable Han (Lee), respectively. So Frank, Sarah, and Marvin head to Paris to solve the mess, crossing paths with Frank’s ex, the incredibly sexy Katya (Zeta-Jones). Sarah naturally isn’t happy about this, but travels with Frank along to London, where they locate a nutty scientist (Hopkins) who has the answer to all the chaos: namely that they need to get to Moscow to stop a rogue nuke.
As in the first film, the plot goes along quite merrily without bothering with either logic or subtext. This is just a silly story about a bunch of goofy old killers, and the film’s main joke is seeing Mirren in camouflage firing a machine-gun (admittedly it is pretty awesome). At least the cast shows that they’re still feisty, taking each other on with gusto as they try to steal every scene. Malkovich’s surreal humour, Mirren’s snappy punchlines, Zeta-Jones’ purring sexuality and Hopkins’ scatter-brained genius are pretty funny, while Willis and Parker get the most thankless roles as a couple still working out their relationship.
But the real problem is that since these are now franchise characters, we know that nothing truly nasty can happen to them, very similar to what happened with the Expendables 2, which, after setting up a rather enjoyable first part, the second part doesn’t add much to their mythos or characters, just very much more of the same. They seem impervious to bullets and immune to crashes that would cripple normal people. It’s so outlandish that we’re apparently supposed to believe all of the shootings and stabbings as just part of a day’s work. But even with ambushes, shocking revelations and elaborate car chases, our pulses never speed up at all. It’s amusing enough to keep you entertained.
So Fanboys and Fangirls, what do you think of RED 2? Worth the watch? Or should our elderly stars retire, without being extremely dangerous?