Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Movie Review: Red 2 (2013)

Grab the popcorn and suspend your disbelief -- the retirees are back, and they're just as outrageous this time around. The first film was a blast and so is this one. Red 2 is a tongue-in-cheek action fest that uses the predictable plot as a frame for over-the-top shootings, chases, and stunts. The only jarring part was the comic-style scene/location transitions, which I found terrifying in the sequel because of the way the humans looked. Red just had postcards. It goes to show: don't change the formula!

Bruce Willis, Dame Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich are back as the Retired, Extremely Dangerous folks who regularly beat up anyone foolish enough to take them on. Mary-Louise Parker is still around as Frank's (Willis) girlfriend Sarah, and she does a great job of being girlishly enthusiastic without being annoying. A running gag in the film is how everyone -- from Malkovich's unhinged Marvin to a corpse-dissolving Victoria (Mirren) to Frank's old nemesis played by Byung-hun Lee (you will have wiped him from your memory as Storm Shadow from GI Joe) -- gives even-keeled Frank unsolicited advice about how to manage his relationship with the high-spirited Sarah. Frank tries to be a good sport about it while fending off the latest threat to their lives.

The story this time has to do with a rumored nuclear weapon hidden in a major city that Frank and Marvin supposedly know something about. The US government gamely sends another team to go after Frank, Sarah, and Marvin, and it is dispatched before the trio flee. Catherine Zeta-Jones shows up to complicate matters, and also to ensure the film meets its quota of two actresses with hyphenated names. As a bonus, the world's best-known cannibal makes an appearance, and he is key to finding the weapon and proving the stateside RED group's innocence.

Savvy viewers will see all the twists coming, but Red 2 keeps it all light and refreshing so we look past that. This movie is not trying to explore the vagaries of the human condition -- it aims to entertain, and that's what it does. My favorite scene is the car chase sequence with Mirren and Lee, where she goes, "Show me something," and he jerks the wheel and it's all slo-mo and she shoots and...excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin. Here, watch this clip to see what I'm talking about.

Conclusion: Heck yeah go watch it!

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