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Red 2
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Hopefully They Are Never Ever Getting Back Together Again"
1 stars

Make no mistake about it, there have been a lot of lousy movies that have popped up so far this summer season--easily the worst such period from a cinematic standpoint in quite a while--and while "Red 2" might not quite be the worst of the lot, it certainly isn't from a lack of trying. Actually, that is not exactly true because if there is one thing that cannot be said about this film, it is that anyone involved with it was doing anything that could be considered "trying," unless the word is being used in conjunction with the phrase "one's patience." Made for no other reason than the fact that the 2010 original unexpectedly made a lot of money at the box office, this follow-up throws everything that it can into the mix--big stars, bigger explosions and plot twists a-plenty--into the mix in a desperate attempt to keep audiences from realizing that whatever charm that the first film's combination of whimsy and violence may have held has long since evaporated.

Following the misadventures in the first film that found him and a few fellow retired government agents being hunted down by their former employers for reasons that currently and blessedly escape my mind, ex-spook Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is cheerfully living a life of quiet suburban anonymity with girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker)--perhaps too quiet for Sarah, who got a taste for action in the previous installment and is thirsting for more. In the wake of a car bombing that seems to kill off eternally paranoid pal Marvin (John Malkovich), Frank is taken in by a nasty government official (Neal McDonough) who wants to interrogate him at length about a nuclear bomb that went missing under his watch back in the Eighties. With the aid of Marvin--who is not quite as dead as he seemed--Frank escapes and the two of them, along with Sarah, fly off to Europe in the hopes of getting some answers.

To make things a little more complicated, Frank also discovers that he has no less than two separate contracts out on his life. The good news is that one of them is old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) and she is at least loyal enough to give Frank a heads up as to her assignment. The bad news is that the other assassin pursuing him is Han (Byung-kim Lee), a Korean killer who is even deadlier than Victoria but not nearly as inclined to give him fair warning. Matters are further complicated when he runs into Katya (Catherine Zeta Jones), who is not only a Russian spy but an old flame to boot, a revelation that does not exactly endear her to Nancy. It eventually transpires that the key to finding the missing bomb lies with Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant scientist who has been languishing inside of a mental asylum for three decades to keep him quiet. Breaking him out is easy enough for Frank and the gang but it quickly becomes apparent that finding the bomb and saving the world--or at least a key part of it--is not going to be a walk in the park.

I was no fan of the original "Red" by any means but enough people seemed to enjoy its tale of old-time spies returning from the pasture to show that they could still cut it and its mixture of goofiness and gunplay. However, having pretty much exhausted those conceits the first time around, something new needed to be brought into the mix if a continuation was to have any chance of succeeding. Alas, that would have required that screenwriters Jon & Erich Hoeber (who also wrote the original, adapting it from the DC comic book series that none of you have ever heard of), director Dean Parisot and the returning cast members to actually put some effort into the proceedings to make it work as anything other than a naked cash grab. Instead, all involved apparently decided early on to go the naked cash grab route and it shows throughout. The screenplay is an embarrassingly lame collection of lame plot elements and cutesy badinage that constantly tries to approximate the breezy charm of the "Ocean's Eleven" movies but can't even rise up to the same level of focused commitment as the similarly dreadful "Now You See Me." Parisot stages everything in the plainest, dullest manner possible (he seems almost as bored with the proceedings as everyone in the audience) and he never manages to find the proper tonal balance between the jokiness and the violence--there is a way to present wholesale slaughter as breezy entertainment but the film never hits upon it.

What is most disheartening about "Red 2" is the sheer laziness that dominates the proceedings throughout. Take a film like "A Good Day to Die Hard," for example. That was a pretty dreadful action sequel but if you could somehow overlook just how enormous of a gap there was between that film and the classic original, one could view it as just another blah action film that might have somehow worked in the right hands but which, for whatever reason, just never quite pulled itself together. "Red 2," on the other hand, doesn't even bother to put in that minimal degree of effort and it shows. The actors, for example, are clearly just going through the motions--the returning performers offer weak rehashes of their earlier turns (Mirren comes off the best of the bunch and Parker the worst while Willis and Malkovich barely even register as presences) while Hopkins and Zeta-Jones waltz through with the listlessness of people who have arrived late to the party and who know they have missed the good stuff. The film is also surprisingly shoddy on a technical level as well--there is no flow between the scenes, the action sequences are duds and the attempts to recreate Moscow using French and British locations are as unconvincing as can be.

"Red 2" is one of the most tiresome and unnecessary films in a season filled with tiresome and unnecessary films and it basically stands as a complete insult to anyone who actually enjoyed the first film and may have wished to one day see a continuation. Imagine "The Cannonball Run II" sans both the narrative cohesion and the focused commitment of its key participants and you may get some idea of the smug stupidity that is pretty much the only thing that it has to offer viewers. The only good news to be had about "Red 2" is that it is so dreadful and contemptuous of its own audience that the chances of there being a "Red 3" in the future have now been reduced considerably.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23988&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/18/13 16:11:51
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User Comments

5/31/14 Joe Smaltz pretty bad 1 stars
1/12/14 mr.mike Decent home vid rental. 3 stars
11/12/13 Vanessa Campos I enjoyed this movie but I thought the first was better. 3 stars
10/15/13 Carl An enjoyable film not as good as the first. 3 stars
9/03/13 Meghan Malicoat Personally I like this film better than the first, and I loved the first. 5 stars
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  19-Jul-2013 (PG-13)
  DVD: 26-Nov-2013

  02-Aug-2013 (12A)

  DVD: 26-Nov-2013

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