Red 2 – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

redRed 2 – 3.5/5 – I had the chance to catch this film at a screener.  In going into this film, I had the hopes that this sequel would not disappoint.  I say this because, when a movie gets made as a sequel to a film that doesn’t need one, they tend to push the boundaries of legitimacy and relevancy.  Thankfully, this sequel pushes a boundary, but one with more action sequences and funny dialogue/situations.  Red 2 is a fun filled action adventure that does enough to make it entertaining to fans of the first, but upping the stakes and making it, one hell of a ride.

Premise:   All seems good for Frank Moses.  He has his girl, and a nice place to live.  All seems well, until a form friend/ and retired black-ops member comes to warn him they are after them again, for a mission they had nothing to do with.  What ensues, is a team-up of unlikely individuals, who must embark on a global quest to track down a weapon that could destroy the world.

In the main roles, we have Bruce Willis as Frank, John Malkovich as Marvin, and Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah.  I deem these as the main trio, as the film focuses on their relationship through this espionage style thriller.  The trio (as a whole) are clever, comical and downright amazing on screen.  The chemistry in the three are both enjoyable and feel authentic.  Willis as Frank gives us that strong but gentle hearted type of character, who has the charm of a gentleman (at times) and the muscle to make him a formidable opponent to the bad guys.  As his love interest, Sarah, Parker gives us someone that is dimwitted, but loveable to the audience.  You feel her sense of enthusiasm for all these awesome ‘spy’ things, but at the same time hope she never gets hurt.  Her and Frank’s relationship is very uneasy at times, but feels real because of the common bickering that a regular couple would do, even if they seem trivial to the coming doom.  Out of these three, Marvin is the one that stands out.  John Malkovich provides a raw, sharp but hilarious character.  Marvin is both sadistic and calculated, but satirical in moments that seem dire at the same time.  He is on point with his dialogue, and makes every situations more outrageous then it should be.  His commanding brings shine to the dull, making you laugh continuously.  In the supporting roles with main input to the story, we have Helen Mirren as MI-6 agent Victoria, Anthony Hopkins as Bailey, Byung-hun Lee as Han, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Katja and Brian Cox as Ivan.  All these individuals provides the audience with a comic style complexion to their characters, but are also riveting and unique.  This little niche, from their dialogue to their actions, helps you become encapsulated and amused by what you see in them on screen.  Outside of these big names, you have standard archetypes for a comic book/espionage film.  Everything from the Government agents, to contract killers, aloof bad guys and guards, and common military people, nothing here will impress.  These characters do enough to move the movie’s plot along.

From the beginning of this film, the direction is put on a linear, fast pace track.   Along this fast track, you are thrust into this ‘espionage thriller’ themed film from the get go.  We are introduced to the main three (Marvin, Frank and Sarah) as they converse at a Costco.  Here, we learn that Marvin and Frank get implicated for a black ops mission known as Nightshade.  After the initial setup of the premise, the trio is thrust into finding out the truth behind the mission, clearing their names, as well as surviving against an onslaught of people trying to kill them.  This kind of premise has been overplayed many times in many thrillers, but even for the redundancy brought to this film, it never deters the films raw entertainment value.  What you learn from is that this premise sets starting mark for the main characters.  Everything thing in the film is put on the characters to command.  From here, the film follows them at a very fast pace, as you country hop from America, to France, to Russia and England.  As you follow Frank, Sarah and Marvin on their journey, the story becomes less of a focus, and the pure smarts of the dialogue between everyone becomes a central theme, as it brings the entertainment value to the forefront.  Every interaction, scenario and moment in the film is based off the commandment of character interactions, that this film feels more like a character piece built into a comic/espionage themed film.  This does make the film enjoyable, both by the fast pace action and funny situations.  What this also does is hide the flaws of the cliché elements and insanely ‘cop out’ situations that happen to string the film along.  Once the film brings all the characters into the story, and they find the item behind Project ‘Nightshade’, you have a twist of sorts, and the gang are then thrust into the standard ‘save the world’ scenario.  This leads us to a climax that could have been boring, but is smart, funny and entertaining.  From the shootouts, to the car chasing, to the ending scenes, you are thrilled by the raw entertainment value, even if common elements have been overplayed here in other stories, films, etc.

The visuals of the film are standard compared to anything that the film provides.  You have a general look at both American and European locations. As you watch the film, the scenery become a backdrop instead of a force that can move the film.  The score is tantalizing at best, but at times it feels they forced the music to be the ‘provoking’ part of action scenes, when they should just let the scenes command themselves.

Red 2 is a decent sequel, but is much more charming and hilarious then the first.  The dialogue is on point and the characters are enjoyable, but you do notice that the rest of the film doesn’t do much but become a backdrop to the main characters and script.  If you’re a fan of the first film, and a fan of any actor/actress in this film, I’d say check it out this weekend.  You won’t be disappointed.

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