Friday, July 19, 2013

A Reel Review: RED 2

The mild success of RED (2010) relied upon the novelty of old (ish) actors firing guns and making things go boom. The sequel, so cleverly named RED 2, relies upon the same novelty. Admirers of the first film will likely get a kick out of seeing the old shtick get replayed, but then again…they may not.
Former CIA agent Frank (Bruce Willis) is called out of his retirement and domestic life with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), to help thwart an unknown enemy from detonating a leftover nuclear weapon from the Cold War. He is joined by his pal Marvin (John Malkovich), master assassin Victoria (Helen Mirren), and a bonkers nuclear physicist (Sir Anthony Hopkins), and has to avoid the assassination attempts by the master hit-man Han (Byung-hun Lee).

The basic premise of RED 2 should, have, and could have been a simple one; stay alive long enough to save the world. Such straightforwardness isn’t nearly enough for director Dean Parisot, who proceeds to make a soup sandwich out of the plot. A convoluted and confusing maze is put upon the story; bouncing the characters from country to country with no clear definition of the next puzzle piece. Add on a few sub-plots involving Frank’s past and his relationship with Sarah, and it is bloody difficult to latch onto anything to care about.
While Parisot is weaving a narrative mess, he is also making one bland and boring action film. Action sequences are uninspired and have no consequences whatsoever, and the jokes and gags fall flat. The novelty of seeing old (ish) actors fire guns wears off after five minutes, and with so much booming and banging going on, there is a dreadful lack of energy and fun. Pacing is a horrible slog; making RED 2 commit the worst sin an action film can ever think of: be boring.

Acting is for crap all around as no one seems to believe in the material and it shows. For the third movie this year, the acting of Bruce Willis is as dull as the top of his head; no charisma, no fun, and no goddamn energy. The rest of the cast seems to exist to play caricatures of themselves; John Malkovich plays weird, Helen Mirren plays classy, and Mary-Louis Parker plays sweet and cute. Sir Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Brian Cox eventually roll around to offer some sort of weight to things, but by then it is much too late.
The third act tries in vain to change things up by offering a few plot twists; twists which fail miserably because they can be seen coming from a thousand miles away, and by the time the last few minutes arrive you can’t help but to root for the bomb to actually go off and wipe out such a dull world and blah characters that RED 2 has created. There is nothing worth saving here.


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