Thursday, August 01, 2013

Movie Review - Red 2

When RED hit the theaters a couple of years ago, it was an immediate hit with our fam. My wife especially loved it and it's been one of her favorite flicks in recent years. So naturally, we were very excited to hear news about a sequel. Still, as always, we approached the sequel with a little anxiety that it might not live up to the original or (worse) it might fall flat. Paul Hogan (of Crocodile Dundee fame) once said that if a sequel is not at least 250% better than the original, you shouldn't make the sequel. We were a little bummed that Morgan Freeman wasn't being resurrected for this movie but we were intrigued to see how Hopkins and Lee would do (we were a little skeptical about Zeta-Jones).

The movie starts out pretty much as the trailer would lead you to expect. Frank (Bruce Willis's character) is trying to live a normal live and keep his muggle girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) safe. Sarah is bored and really wants to get back in the excitement so when Marvin (John Malkovich) shows up, she is super eager to hop back into the action. Right from the start (and throughout the film) you'll notice that a lot of the gags are rehashes from the first film or consist of one-liners shown in the trailer. So yes, you've already seen a fair amount of the humor already. Still, there are plenty of fun and unique moments that may catch your giggle-reflex off guard and get you laughing.

Particularly fun (at least for me) was when the team meets up with Bailey (Anthony Hopkins). I really enjoyed Hopkins's character as an off-kilter scientist who's been locked up for ~30 years and seems to be quite a bit crazy. I loved the zany expressions and reactions Hopkins portrayed in the various scenes. You're never quite sure just how crazy he is or how much he might actually understand what's going on.

Amid the action and espionage of the film, the other core story plot centers around Frank's relationship with Sarah. There's a lot of tension between the two characters as Frank tries to shelter her from the action and danger that she wants to be a part of. Marvin and Victoria (Helen Mirren) provide some sage yet strangely formulated relationship advice that is both sentimental and funny.

To a large extent, it seemed that Catherine Zeta-Jones's character existed in the plot solely to create tension between Frank and Sarah. At times it really felt like the romantic comedy story was trying to upstage the action adventure movie that was going on. The juxtaposition generally worked but it resulted in a few off-balance sequences that felt a little strained.

The action-adventure plot was interesting but didn't seem as tight or as solid as the intrigue from the first movie. The writer/director created plenty of opportunity for suspenseful action as every international agency seems to suddenly have a death warrant out for Frank and team. Han (Byung-hun Lee's) character brought in some great hand-to-hand fight sequences though for being the top contract killer in the world it was a little surprising to see how easily Frank and team evaded his efforts. I liked that his motivation for dealing with them went beyond the simple money of a contract killing though that additional motivation made the ending feel a little cheapened and unbelievable. Still, I enjoyed Han's screen time and felt like he made a good addition to the team.

Overall I really had fun with this movie. It's not high drama or intense well-crafted espionage but it's a good, zany shoot-em-up and blow-em-up summertime action film. I didn't feel like it was quite as good as the first film mainly because I felt like this one tried to do a little too much and get a little too over the top and as a result it wasn't quite as tight and fluid. Still, it was a lot of fun and I suspect we'll be watching it again and again at various family gatherings (though maybe not as much as its predecessor).

3.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

my thought was this would be a fun movie more than anything serious...and that is at times worth it if done well..ha

on the list to check out...