BRUCE WILLIS AND GANG ARE BACK IN RED 2, A PERFECT RECIPE OF ACTION, COMEDY AND CHEMISTRY BETWEEN AN OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE CAST
Director: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Helen Mirren, Byung-hun Lee, Neal McDonough and Anthony Hopkins
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Length: 1 Hr and 56 Min
Sometimes the performance of a single actor can make a good movie a great one (see Daniel Day Lewis’ Oscar winning performance in last year’s Lincoln). Other times, a single performance may be the only reason to see a movie (see half of Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson’s respective resumes) and sometimes you get a group of actors who share such excellent chemistry, their collective screen time makes the movie (see Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in this summer’s crudely hilarious The Heat). The strength of the cast was one of the secrets behind the original Red’s success and Red 2 reunites most of the players from the original. The result is another top-notch action comedy where the work of the ensemble cast alone is worth the price of admission.
Elite CIA operative Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has settled back into retirement and has been re-designated R.E.D., Retired Extremely Dangerous. Frank is trying to achieve domestic bliss with girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who looks like she’s getting ready to keel over from boredom. But the action hungry Sarah shouldn’t worry because before things can become too stale for the happy couple, Marvin (John Malkovich) pops back into their lives, bearing ominous warnings. It isn’t too long before the three of them find themselves on the run from the entire espionage community and a handful of deadly assassins, collecting clues as to why they’re being hunted and blowing a lot of things up and shooting a lot of guns along the way. As it turns out, the only way to clear their names and shake the hit men on their trails is to essentially save the world, which means joining forces with Frank’s old flame Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), teaming back up with the elegantly lethal Victoria (Helen Mirren), matching wits with ruthless CIA agent Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) and chasing down the brilliant Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), who after spending over three decades in a British insane asylum, makes Marvin look stable.
Director Dean Parisot is smart enough to sit back and let his outstanding cast take the lead on Red 2. It isn’t so much the quality of the stars assembled for the sequel, but that each actor is a brilliant match for their character. Willis gets to abandon the purse lipped, rock jawed lone wolf he usually portrays in any kind of action movie, instead getting to play a genuinely nice guy but one who can kill you with his eyebrows. Malkovich is perfect as the unhinged Martin and his facial expressions deliver more punch lines than his dialogue. Zeta-Jones smoulders as the sultry Russian General Katja, a super sexy ghost from Frank’s past that haunts the adventure seeking, slightly neurotic yet mostly sweet Sarah, nicely played by Mary-Louise Parker. Helen Mirren is more than convincing as the dignified yet unrelenting killing machine Victoria and Byung-hun Lee looks like he could well be Hollywood’s next action sensation. Even Sir Anthony Hopkins gets to stretch his quirky muscles as the more than vaguely insane Dr. Bailey, who has all the secrets our band of merry mercenaries need locked away in the insane labyrinth that is his mind.
The cast are given a strong script to work with, with a few healthy twists and turns and plenty of snappy, witty dialogue. There’s also a generous dose of slap stick as well, and Frank, Sarah and Marvin come across as a covert three amigos, bouncing barbs off one another while dodging bullets and bad guys. The leads all carry their weight with efficient ease in Red 2, but the final product is more than the sum of its acting parts and the cast share an excellent chemistry that Parisot takes advantage of with great results. Whether it’s Frank doting protectively on Sarah or Sarah and Katja bickering over Frank or Marvin just being Marvin, it’s obvious the cast had a great time making Red 2. If you’re looking fo pure entertainment, odds are you’ll have a great time watching it too.