Friday, July 19, 2013

Red 2 Movie Review

Mary-Louise Parker, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich (r) in Red 2

Time to Bury the Red

Is there an unwritten rule that says sequels have to be uninspired and even worse... unoriginal?  If you watch Dean Parisot's Red 2, the answer is an unequivocal YES. Did I just use the prefix "un" four times in two sentences? I did, and I'd gladly toss in a fifth if allowed... undo, as in undo my unwise (that's six) decision to screen Red 2. Some sequels should never be made: This is one of them.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: In Red 2, the high-octane action-comedy sequel to the worldwide sleeper hit, retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. To succeed, they'll need to survive an army of relentless assassins, ruthless terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the next-generation weapon. The mission takes Frank and his motley crew to Paris, London and Moscow. Outgunned and outmanned, they have only their cunning wits, their old-school skills, and each other to rely on as they try to save the world-and stay alive in the process.

What’s Best: I liked the first Red a lot (see review here) but Parisot brings absolutely nothing new to the table. That said, co-stars Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren share a level of chemistry that doesn't come easy. Dame Mirren is especially enticing, as when she coyly declares, 'I'm with someone right now,' when answering her hotel door. Who's the special someone? Two guys she's in the process of killing. Sadly, Willis spends most of his time trying to protect his annoying partner in crime Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) instead of forming a killer trio with Malkovich and Mirren.

What’s Not: Parker's Sarah was sorta cute in Red, but her "Gee-wiz, isn't this cool?" routine gets pretty old in the first few minutes, and never seems to stop. Her constant looks of bewilderment and desire for danger annoyed me to no end. Ditto for jumping around like an over-sugared teenager. Sure, she's younger than Bruce & co., but not by that much (she's 48.) Give it a rest: You're not fooling anyone. Note: Parker is a very good actress, and I blame Parisot for instructing her to do the same thing over and over again. Unfortunately, audiences remember the characters more than the ones responsible for putting words in their mouths.

Worst Line: Keeping with the movie's theme of unoriginality, writers Erich and Jon Hoeber put little effort into such lines as, 'Where's my plane?' to which Willis' character replies 'In my ass,' or Mirren's 'I'm the Queen of England. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,' while pretending to be... the Queen of England. You see, she did play the Queen once... Oh, never mind. No points for 'I thought I was channeling Bette Davis,' either.

Even more predictable, multiple references to being old (as if their faces didn't already give that away.) 'Pretty good for a retired guy.' 'Frank, do you feel old?' 'Stuff it, you old bat,' and 'My God Frank, why do you look so old?' Give me $100 and I could write this script.

Overall: Red 2 shows glimpses of potential (Willis poking a "dead" Malkovich with a pin, leaps to mind) but nowhere near enough to outshine thousands of random bullets and dozens of throwaway lines and characters. Globetrotting across Europe (London, Moscow, Paris) isn't enough to distract this reviewer from bad filmmaking, and neither is wasting Lee Byung-hun's true US debut (you can't count G.I. Joe movies, can you?) with jive lines like, 'Gimme a gun that really hurts,' and beating up Russian cops while tied to a refrigerator door (don't ask.) If you like your entertainment loud and senseless, and enjoy familiar faces... Red 2 may tickle your fancy just long enough to ignore its many shortcomings. Too bad I'm not as easily fooled.