Directed by: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta Jones
Rated: PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material
The gang of agents marked Retired: Extremely Dangerous are back for another adventure in “RED 2,” helmed by director Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”). If you enjoyed the silliness and action of the first film, this one will not disappoint. If you missed the first movie, you’ll need a strong grip on your suspension of disbelief and a willingness to take a lot of things on faith. Those who insist on character development, a lack of plot holes, and seriousness should give this one a pass.
Ex-CIA agent Frank (Bruce Willis) just wants to settle down with his sweetheart Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), but that wouldn’t make a terribly interesting story, would it? His paranoid and somewhat bizarre friend Marvin (John Malkovich) shows up with information that someone has leaked classified papers claiming they were involved in a dangerous mission they’ve never heard of, and the CIA is likely planning to kill them.
Marvin’s right, of course, and when their finest fellow doesn’t cut it (Frank has been marked RED for a reason), they send the best contract killer in the world: Han (Byung-hun Lee), a brilliant assassin with a grudge against Frank. Meanwhile, MI-6 is after Frank, Sarah, and Marvin for their own reasons: as part of trying to figure out what’s going on, they’ve broken insane scientist Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) out of his asylum. MI-6 send their best after them: Victoria (Helen Mirren), an old friend.
The rest of the plot involves all sorts of silliness, including breaking into the Kremlin via a Papa John’s bathroom, some very impressive stunt driving, and lots and lots of relationship advice from fellow killers to Frank. See, Sarah likes that Frank’s dangerous and does dangerous things, while he wants to protect her and settle down. Not a good mix.
“RED 2” is a lean, mean, entertainment machine. Anything unnecessary (and, let’s face it, some necessary things) has been stripped from the plot. Many of the plot- and character-related conversations take place during gunfights or covert ops. There are lots of explosions and gunfights, plus some impressive hand-to-hand combat.
The characters are all painted in very broad strokes, often to the point of ludicrousness – which is absolutely fine in a film like this, which exists largely as a framework for humor and action scenes. It’s nice to see Frank and Sarah’s improbable relationship go through the same push-pull compromise stuff every relationship does (though presumably most relationships aren’t compromising about whether or not one of the people gets to come along on dangerous covert ops).
This is not a film that takes itself at all seriously, and all the actors look like they’re having a blast. It’s easy to get swept up in the infectious good humor and excitement and forgive the numerous implausible events, the macguffin the plot winds up revolving around, and the general ridiculousness. If you like the sort of thing this film has to offer, you will almost certainly love it. If not, you will almost certainly hate it.