Red 2 2013
I’ve almost completed my recent goal of watching and reviewing the last few major comic book films I have yet to cover here. This film came out during the second year of this site and it was the first summer where I started to realize how many comic book films were actually coming out and how difficult it was for me to keep up with all of them. And since this was a sequel to a film that I had yet to see, it was one of those that fell through the cracks until now. I hadn’t really heard much about this film, and what little I did hear was generally mixed. But since I did enjoy the first one so much, I though I would enjoy this one as well. There is definitely a different tone to this film, and while the plot still isn’t much to speak of, I did laugh more often and harder than I did in the first film, so it’s got that going for it at least.
One of the biggest differences between the original and the sequel is the relationship between Willis’s Frank and Parker’s Sarah. In the first RED, Sarah was new to everything and the two of them were kind of building a relationship. Here, the relationship is established and we have Frank acting protective over his girl while Sarah is still intoxicated by the thrill and wants to be involved as much as possible. In fact, Parker’s performance was the most entertaining out of the entire cast and she also had the biggest character arc. While she did get involved in a few minor ways during the first movie, she becomes much more involved here, especially as she starts to try and embrace a role as a femme fatale with comedic-yet-effective results. But she also gets to take on the other side of the equation where she shoots and kills someone for the first time. The moment isn’t given much time to breathe in the overall fast pace of the movie, but it’s there.
As a sequel, RED 2 does generally follow a standard sequel formula: more of the same, only bigger. This time around instead of travelling around the US, they are travelling around the globe. And on top of that, they have one of the top assassins after them from Korea played by Byung-hun Lee. Unfortunately, he plays the assassin as rather ineffective and was way too focused on his private plane that was hijacked by Frank and co. Not only that, but he ended up switching sides on a dime with relatively little convincing. Malkovich’s role was also diminished even though his screen time was increased. Where he was a very unstable wild card in the first movie, he was a much more standard character with only a few glimpses of his conspiracy theory infatuated former self. The addition of Anthony Hopkins was a welcome one and he played both the absent-minded mad professor and calculating villain with equal skill.
Where the film does lack is the overall plot. There’s a little bit too much convolution in what all is going on, with a plot that Frank and co were supposed to have been involved with but weren’t, but actually were. Plus a bomb and Russia and an imprisoned scientist and a lot of other things that don’t entirely make sense, but somehow the characters are having enough fun that you can just go along with it to see where it takes them next. It doesn’t help that Neal McDonough is a big step down from Karl Urban, both in presence, menace, and even screen time. At least Helen Mirren and Brian Cox both make a welcome reappearance in their roles and really help to provide a nice, albeit brief counterbalance to Frank and Sarah’s relationship. The same is also true of Catherine Zeta Jones as Frank’s old flame and current kryptonite. Even though the film once again falls back to killing one of the team with only a brief moment of grief before never mentioning her again.
As with the original, there’s not much depth to discuss here. The action works for what it’s supposed to do. Nearly every character gets their moment to be a badass at one point or another, and they save the world at the end. The sequel tries to ramp things up by putting their escapades on a global scale, but it ends up being more of the same. Not that it’s entirely a bad thing because it’s still a hell of a lot of fun. The comedy was definitely kicked up a notch for me this time around, especially the comedy centered around Frank and Sarah’s freshly minted relationship. There wasn’t as much of a heist aspect this time around, but there were a few schemes here and there that were fun to watch, as always. I’m not sure how much mileage they could get out of a third movie, or a proposed TV series, but at least as far as these two movies are concerned, I loved them and I’m glad that I own them even if I did get them on clearance. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.