Frank (Bruce Willis) is pulled out of retirement when a missing nuclear device threatens the world. Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) is only too glad to join the crew as Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) must deal with some new, and not so new, foes.
RED 2 has brought back ne of the best cast spy teams ever to grace our screens. Based on a graphic novel, the film tells the story of a group of experienced operatives whose friendships often get them into trouble. Bruce Willis returns as Frank, a former operative who, while incredibly good at what he does, longs for the quiet life. Willis brings his trademark dry humour to the role and does spectacularly well during the set pieces. In a year where there has been no shortage of Willis roles, this is certainly his best.
Mary-Louise Parker reprises her role as Sarah, Frank’s girlfriend who has got a taste for her partner’s dangerous lifestyle. While she is not as whimpering as she was in the first film, Sarah is offered her moment to shine and only just takes it. Parker and Willis do well in the screwball comedy stakes again, as their constant bickering about where Sarah would be safe is rather amusing. Helen Mirren shines again as the aloof and practical Victoria, and John Malkovich dials down the manic paranoia as Marvin and, in doing so, does not allow his character to be as funny as he was the first time around. Anthony Hopkins joins the cast as Bailey – a weapons creator who has been incarcerated for 32 years. While Hopkins dials up the crazy, it seems as though director Dean Parisot was either intimidated by the actor, or didn’t know what to do with the character, as Hopkins is funny, but uneven in his performance.
Unlike the first film, RED 2 sees the gang gallivanting around the world while trying to escape this hits out on them, and find the missing nuclear bomb. The constant to-ing and fro-ing around the globe becomes tiresome after a while, as does the pacing and editing, which is tight when it should be loose, and vice versa. There are some great set pieces that are stylish but end too quickly, while jokes are left to die on their feet.
Director Dean Parisot was brought in when Robert Schwentke jumped ship for R.I.P.D and, while Parisot brought us the brilliant Galaxy Quest many years ago, it seems that directing such a strong ensemble is no longer his forte. Characters that were integral to the first film are left to languish in the background, while much is made of central characters who seem to have been unfairly brought front and centre. That said, RED 2 is still enjoyable, but it is not as tight and slick as it should have been
In all, RED 2 is an enjoyable, over the top spy thriller/comedy, but the genius of the first film has not been repeated. Sidelining certain characters means that a lot of the comedy is missing, the film is perhaps 30 minutes too long and the pacing leaves a lot to be desired at times. There is a great film at the centre of RED 2, but sadly a meandering plot and an unnecessarily bloated storyline surround it.