August 6, 2013
I have not seen the first RED which was a big hit back in 2010. So I am watching this film totally unfamiliar with what it was all about before. Even then, I thoroughly enjoyed the explosive mix of action and humor that made this film click.
Frank Moses (a retired CIA operative) is trying to live a quiet life with his mousy girlfriend Sarah (Mary Louise Parker), but you know that is not going to happen to a guy who is certified RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous).
A Wiki-leaks cable would implicate Frank and his kooky partner Marvin (John Malkovich) in a Cold War project called Nightshade, developed by genius scientist Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins). This project involved a portable nuclear explosive, which now Frank had to recover.
While going all around Moscow, Paris, and London to seek out this weapon of mass destruction , Frank also had to avoid two contracts out to kill him, one by MI6 spy Victoria (Helen Mirren) and another by the vicious Korean hired killer Han (Byung Hun Lee). Frank also encounters an ex- lover Russian spy Katja (Catherine Zeta Jones), who had always been his "kryptonite".
What we get is a very entertaining, high-octane action film. There was frenzied gunfire, exciting car chases, conniving and double crossing -- every element a good spy movie should have. Helen Mirren was so elegant with those firearms. The incredible graceful martial arts skills of Byung-hun Lee was a definite highlight for me.
The sense of humor is insane, especially that of John Malkovich. Everybody plays it tongue-in-cheek through all the violent scenes, including typically serious actors like Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins. Mary Louise Parker steals her scenes with her delightful naivety in the light of all the danger around her.
Above all, Bruce Willis really takes command of this film as Frank Moses. After a disastrous turn in the critically-massacred "A Good Day to Die Hard", this Bruce Willis in "RED 2" is the Bruce Willis we all expect and admire. It does not hurt that he has excellent chemistry with the crazy Malkovich and his "GI Joe" co-star Byung-hun Lee.
The movie does not take itself too seriously and neither should we. We are there to enjoy the awesomely conceptualized and executed action sequences, as impossible or superhuman as they may look. At the same time, we will also enjoy the lightning-fast zingers and humorous banter among these accomplished actors. Director Dean Parisot definitely achieves what he set out to do--an entertaining summer blockbuster film, and that is the most important. 8/10.