Running time: About 110 minutes
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins
Who to see it with: Fans of over-the-top, funny action
RED 2 sees the return of everyone's favorite over-the-hill super assassins. The first movie was a surprise hit and the sequel looks to continue the same retired (in a good way), over-the-top action as the first one. In RED 2, Frank Moses (Willis), Sarah Ross (Parker), and Marvin Boggs (Malkovich) are forced to hunt down a nuclear weapon before various governments get to them--and the weapon--first. If that plot sounds hard to fathom and maybe a little unrealistic, don't worry, RED 2 doesn't take anything too seriously. And that's a lot of the fun of the movie. The action is overblown, the characters are total badasses, and it has just the right amount of campiness. In that respect, it's similar to the Fast and the Furious movies and you all know I love those. Sure, some of the action is a little too CG heavy and a lot of the scenes are preposterous, but that's not the appeal of the movie. RED 2 succeeds exactly because everything is completely insane.
And, a lot of the appeal of the RED movies is the phenomenal cast. Most of your favorites are back and the characters they added fit perfectly in the world. Willis and Malkovich make a great team, with Willis's rather serious demeanor providing a nice contrast to Malkovich's craziness. Parker is a lot of fun as she grounds the whole team with her lack of experience in international espionage and assassination. Of the additions to the movie, I especially loved Anthony Hopkins. He is such a joy to watch on screen, especially in a role where he can be completely let himself go. Each character in RED 2 embodies some stereotypical action movie persona, and they all mix together in perfect chaos and harmony. One of the touches that I really appreciated about the sequel is that they inserted some callbacks to the RED series source material. Some of you might not realize after seeing the first movie that this series is based on a comic book. RED 2 helps remedy this by starting the film with some comic style animations and then having comic transitions here and there. It's a small touch but one that is greatly appreciated. RED 2 is just an enjoyable movie. It's got the characters, action, fun, and craziness of the first one while managing to have a more engaging story and just be an overall better film.
I think RED 2 is successful because of the nearly constant comedic vibe found throughout the movie. It never takes itself very seriously, and Bruce Willis's standard tough guy character works well when accompanied by a goofy girlfriend and the other wackier spies. It's fun to see actors best known for dramatic work apply their talents to roles that are so silly. Like Fast & Furious 6, it should easily appeal to those looking for action or comedy. Scenes that would seem cliched in most blockbusters are regularly given a dose of humor. The action was slightly better executed this time, though it does become a bit too outrageous toward the end. The mix of a campy spy story with Willis and Parker's relationship hijinks works better than I would expect. Despite its aging stars, RED 2 has more life and energy than many of its more youthful peers.