Retired, Extremely Fun – A review of RED 2

John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Bruce Willis star in RED 2. The three are on the run from several friends who have been contracted to kill them.
John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Bruce Willis star in RED 2. The three are on the run from several friends who have been contracted to kill them.

Title: RED 2

Production Company: Summit Entertainment

Run Time: 116 minutes

Rated: PG-13

Director: Dean Parisot

Stars: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren

4 stars for RED 2

Summary: More interesting and more fun than RED. This movie serves up as many laughs (and bigger ones) than the original Lethal Weapon. A great blend of action and comedy.

I didn’t see that coming. Who would have thought that one of the best action comedies of the summer would be released at the end of July. And it’s a sequel, no less. That’s even more surprising.

Bruce Willis needs a hit after the dismal Die Hard sequel from earlier this year. Here, he returns as Frank Moses, a retired CIA operative who just wants to stay low key. Mary Louise Parker plays his girlfriend Sarah who wants to get involved with the action even though he wants to keep her out of the life.

And then there’s John Malkovich, whose Marvin is less sane than a schizophrenic on crack. He wants to drag both of them back into the game to find a nut who developed a nuclear device and smuggled it out of the country.

That nut turns out to be Anthony Hopkins, who has been incarcerated by the Russians for 32 years, yet has limited recollection of the passing of time. Or does he?

And of course Helen Mirren is back, playing feisty British intelligence agent Victoria who’s contracted to kill Frank and Marvin. But she’s not the only one. Byung-hun Lee joins the cast as Han, an Asian hitman who also has history with Frank.

And then there’s the collection of supporting players who all have a niche to fill in the story. Accomplished actors like Stephen Berkoff, Garrick Hagon, Brian Cox and SU grad Neal McDonough all have key tasks to complete as the story runs its course.

What works well here is the camaraderie of the senior cast. You can buy all of them as mature operatives who, as the title of the film implies, are retired, yet extremely dangerous. Not only to others, but to themselves as well.

The plot is crisp and the laughs fly faster than the bullets from the guns. That’s what makes this story such a gem to watch.

The story is a tad predictable, but what action adventure in Hollywood today doesn’t have a measure of predictability. Even though we can clearly see what’s coming (and the cast vociferously denies any knowledge of those same foreshadowed events), we don’t expect the laugh lines that go along with our expectations of the action on the screen.

But when the dust settles and the body count reaches it’s final toll, we breathe a sigh of relief along with the heroes and wonder, as they do, what adventures await us in RED 3.

And that spells the true measure of box office success. I give RED 2 four out five stars.

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