I was a big fan of the first Red, but going into the sequel I was a bit skeptical. Some early reviews were not the most positive, but I went into the film hoping for at the very least a fun ride. Most of the main cast from the original film return and they are still fantastic.
Bruce Willis stars as Frank Moses and he has a lot of fun in the role. He mixes his badass action hero side with his comedic side and they mesh perfectly. Moses is a cool character, what you’d call a real warm hearted killer. John Malkovich plays Marvin the old crazy dude who was dosed with LSD for years. Marvin is probably my favorite out of the group. Malkovich goes full on Rowan Atkinson and makes more funny faces than Mr. Bean. Mary-Louise Parker, most famous for her starring role on Weeds, plays Sarah, Frank’s girlfriend. She is one of my favorite actresses and does a great job. Helen Mirren returns as Victoria, and I’m a little disappointed by how she was used in Red 2. I’ll just say that the trailer is a little misleading about her role. The only lead actor I really missed from the first movie was Karl Urban’s CIA agent. I really thought Karl Urban was awesome and I was looking forward to seeing him again, but sadly he was nowhere to be found.
There are some new additions to the cast that add even more creative and colorful style to the roster. Anthony Hopkins plays the delightfully crazy Professor Bailey. He’s not in the movie as much as I would’ve hoped however. Byung-hun Lee (who I had just seen recently giving an excellent performance in the Korean film I Saw the Devil) plays a contract killer that serves as a pretty cool character who adds a few extra fight scenes. Catherine Zeta-Jones is in the movie too, but she doesn’t do anything impressive.
The story has some plot holes and isn’t terribly original or interesting, but the characters are able make the film work. Red 2 is full of comedy that delivers for the most part. I do however have a couple of bones to pick with this sequel. First and foremost is the product placement. It’s really horrendous how blatant and shoveled in it is. There’s ads for Pringles, Papa John’s, Moon Pies, and all unnecessarily crammed in. They do their best to work it in smartly, but it’s still shameful. The next is my dislike of the badly rendered CGI. There is not a whole of it but when there is, it looks really outdated, which is strange coming from such a big budget production. My final criticism is regarding the films self contained PG-13 rating. I understand that it wants to appeal to the widest audience possible and I can respect that. I can also respect the lack of strong language, that’s not a problem. But what is a problem is the way the film handles violence. The script calls for blood that the film isn’t willing to deliver. There is a scene where a few people get stabbed and one dude gets his throat cut. You can actually see the blade on the knife retracting as it presses against the actors chest. There’s no blood and the clothes don’t even rip but the worst thing is that when the guy gets his throat cut, there is absolutely no bodily reaction. This might have worked if the camera kept his throat off screen, but no, it’s the focus of the shot. No cut, no blood, yet the character dies of a slit throat? A movie certainly doesn’t need to be bloody to be good, but it needs to be shot differently to be believable.
Despite these flaws I still found Red 2 to be a really entertaining experience. The comedy is well done and the talented actors make this a good time at the movies.