RED 2: Far Too Dangerous

I saw RED last year on DVD, on the recommendation of a friend, and it was 2 hours of fun. Yes, it was a pure action spectacle from the first minute to the last, and the characterisation was thin with a predictable plot, but sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. RED did what Expendables tried to do with an ensemble cast in an action flick, but much better. And a major reason for this was that despite the predictability of the story, it was still exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat, and had much better acting from its cast.

The sequel, RED 2, came out about a month back and I was right in line to watch it on the release weekend. I’d originally gone to watch Pacific Rim (review) a second time since I had a free ticket but ended up watching RED 2 because the free ticket didn’t apply to a 3D movie. All the same, I don’t regret watching RED 2 since it really was such a hell of a film, a really great sequel to an already great film.

Returning as former special agents/assassins, classified “Retired, Extremely Dangerous”, Frank Moses and Marvin Boggs are on the run once again, this time for apparent participation in a Cold War-era mission which none of them know about. With a big target painted on their backs by both American and British intelligence communities, the two of them set out to get to the heart of the matter, and all sorts of hijinks ensure, especially with Frank’s girlfriend Sarah in tow and several other returning characters, as well as new ones.

In a summer that was dominated by disappointments like Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness but illuminated by surprisingly good movies like Pacific Rim and The Wolverine (review), RED 2 does much to leave a sweet aftertaste, coming in at the right end of summer. This movie doesn’t aim big and it doesn’t need to either. Its a simple ensemble movie featuring some really great actors (despite the huge disappointment that was Bruce Willis’ latest Die Hard movie), and a really simple plot that doesn’t confuse, only entertains. This is why I compared this to last year’s Expendables 2 (review), which came out in August as well, at the tail-end of another major summer blockbuster window, and still managed to impress more than some of those very blockbusters.

RED 2 001

The formula is simple: simplicity itself. That’s what I loved about the movie. I never had trouble following along with the story or the characters, and every scene, whether it was big on action or big on progression, was fun. I never got bored of the movie at any point in time, whether it was Frank delivering a tearful eulogy over Marvin’s coffin early on in the film, or Victoria (Helen Mirren) giving an acid bath to a bunch of dead men, or Han (Byung-Hun Lee) and Frank fighting it out in a cafe in Moscow, or the big chase scene at the end.

In terms of the acting, every character got a chance to shine. Bruce Willis and John Malkovich were as impressive as they were the first time around, particularly Malkovich given his oddball and conspiracy-crazy Marvin Boggs. And there’s always a certain amount of irony and humorous self-deprecation to his acting. He’s delivered some amazing performances before, and both RED and RED 2 are no exception to that. After Die Hard 5 earlier this year, RED 2 is a spot of brightness in Willis’ career, as far as I’m concerned. Where in Die Hard 5 he was wooden and boring, in RED 2 he was lively and impressive.

Mary-Louise Parker, in all respects, she was the true star of the film. She got the best dialogues, and the best scenes. I also liked the fact that her character Sarah just wouldn’t accept any of Frank’s pandering and kid-gloves treatment with regards to her getting in the line of fire. She is bold and assertive in a way that few Hollywood female characters are these days. She doesn’t get to do much in the way of action, but that’s fine with me really. Would have been a great bonus, but I’m fine all the same.

On which note, certainly can’t rule out Helen Mirren at all. As with the first movie in the franchise, there’s something oddly satisfying about Helen Mirren kicking ass the way that she does, especially when she’s in sniper mode. Set against all the other men, she most definitely holds her own, no matter what.

Brian Cox guest-starring gave me a bit of a sad, since I enjoy his performances a lot and this one was all too brief. Regardless, his scenes with Helen Mirren were extremely lol-worthy. I had no idea that he had such good comic timing, given that he usually does more serious roles, such as Troy or Bourne Identity or Coriolanus.

And of course, Byung-Hun Lee, love that guy. While his performances in the G.I.Joe movies leave a lot to be desired, mostly due to the limitations the character Storm Shadow is saddled with, he’s still a terrific actor as Masquerade, The Influence, and The Good, The Bad, The Weird show.

RED 2 002

All in all, some great stuff here really. If there were any disappointments, they were few in number. Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Russian special agent Katya was one of them. Just… uninvolved and unconvincing acting throughout. Sometimes a bit vapid as well, sadly. She can do much better. The kind of seductive femme fatale role she plays here is not to her strengths and it shows. Plus, her Russian accent is just that slight bit atrocious. Comical really.

David Thewlis’ character (another fantastic actor saddled with a bad role) was another downer, but given that the entire franchise originated as a comic, that is perhaps staying true to that original feel and atmosphere.’

RED 2 does mostly the right things. It gives most of its characters time to shine and it moves along rather nicely, without getting bogged down at any time. Anthony Hopkins’ proves to be a surprise hit with his acting and his character, and the twist in the final act is worth everything leading up to it. If anything, I’ll say that I kind of missed Karl Urban this time around. He was really good in RED and I was expecting him to return. Hopefully he can come back for RED 3 or something. That’d be amazing. There’s a far better chance of RED 3 happening than Dredd 2 anyway.

So yes, do give RED 2 a try. I wasn’t disappointed at all, and I hope you won’t be either.

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Posted on September 7, 2013, in Movie Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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