Capone says better action doesn't make up for all that is wrong with RED 2!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
I wasn't much of a fan of the first RED film about middle-aged/over-the-hill former CIA operatives (mostly assassins) who are forced out of retirement to take on both the agency and other assorted bad guys. The primary reason I disliked the film is that, with the exception of Morgan Freeman's character and maybe Helen Mirren, none of the retirees were that old. But as the film went on, the truly aggravating parts of the film involved Bruce Willis' harpy, would-be girlfriend Sarah, played by Mary-Louise Parker. Thankfully, the makers of RED 2 have seen fit to dial up the action quite a bit (a good thing), introduce more interesting characters in the form of Anthony Hopkins and South Korean superstar Byung-hum Lee (also good things), and made Sarah the single most annoying character to have populated a film this year.
But even more irritating is that once again in a mindless action film, the fate of the free world is at stake and people are trying to save friends and loved ones rather than concentrate on, I don't know, saving the planet. Maybe I'm cold blooded, and I apologize if you are someone who is close to me, but if it comes down to saving you or saving the world, kiss your ass good-bye. The needs of the many and all that shit...
But my God, I didn't think this franchise could make Sarah more grating. All she wants to do is go out on missions with her sweetie bear Frank (Willis), but when he does include her, all she does is fuck up and put lives at risk. I guess that's funny, but any self-respecting assassin would have done away with her years ago. She's a horrible creature, and Parker adds that extra layer of nails on a chalkboard to really seal the deal. But she's not the only terrible thing about RED 2, oh no.
Seriously, if this series was only about Frank, his buddy Marvin (John Malkovich, acting weird even for him), and maybe Helen Mirren's Victoria (for class), it might be really interesting. But Frank saddled with domestic prospects just isn't as funny as the filmmakers think it is. Tossing in Byung-hun's Han Cho Bai is a great touch; he's agile, funny and adds some energy to the proceedings. I'm always a fan of seeing Neal McDonough in anything; here, he pops up as Jack Horton, who is tracking down a nuclear device that was apparently brought into Moscow from the US piece by piece during the Cold War, assembled, but never used. I'm not sure how killing these former CIA agents fits into his plan, but I'll go along since the film also has a nice extended cameo from David Thewlis as The Frog, who also serves as one of the pieces to this over-complicated puzzle.
All roads seem to lead to Bailey (Hopkins), a scientist who has been locked away for 30-plus years and seems to have lost in mind during that time. But he's the only one who apparently knows where the bomb is hidden, so the team must drag another goofball into its unfunny adventures. I'll admit, I held out some amount of hope for this film because it was directed by GALAXY QUEST helmer Dean Parisot, but my optimism was misplaced. Adding to the obnoxious factor is Catherine Zeta-Jones as a Russian agent who used to have a little lust thing going on with Frank. And guess how Sarah reacts to that bit of news. Or should I say, guess how she overreacts? God, she's annoying.
There is a great deal of CG-assisted action in RED 2, only Mirren and Malkovich don't utterly humiliate themselves during the course of this film. The laughs are almost entirely low brow, and by the end of this agonizing film, I was kind of hoping the portable nuclear device would get set of, if only to put me out of my fucking misery. But even with all of this being said, I found this film more enjoyable than the last boring, stupid entry. You may be able to glean that I'm not a fan of the RED movies. I'm certainly a fan of most of the actors involved, and I like the idea in principle, but the execution makes me hate the world. I've never read the DC comic this series is based on, but I'm guessing it's a lot more tolerable than these sloppy, dumb movies. If you choose to see this instead of the 15 better movies out there (both in wide and limited release), you're either old or you hate movies; the choice is yours.
-- Steve Prokopy
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