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RED 2 – film review

August 28, 2013


Oldies – but goodies.

Reviewed on Tuesday 20th August 2013


Directed by Dean Parisot. Screenplay by Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber. Based on characters created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Catherine Zeta Jones, Byung-hun Lee, Brian Cox, David Thewlis and Anthony Hopkins. Running time: 116 minutes.

While attempting to live the quiet life with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary Louise Parker) – retired agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is falsely implicated in a Cold War plot from thirty-two years ago to smuggle a nuclear bomb into Moscow. With US government agents tailing them, Frank and Sarah, together with Frank’s buddy Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) – go on the run in a bid to locate the bomb’s loopy inventor Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) and clear their names.

For anyone unfamiliar with the original movie, the title RED is an acronym for ‘Retired Extremely Dangerous’ – a term used to refer to former government agents who have been put out to pasture in their, shall we say, senior years. RED 2 is an action comedy sequel to the surprise sleeper hit of 2010 – a film which featured the unprecedented sight of Dame Helen Mirren dressed in a ball gown, brandishing           a machine gun – blowing away the bad guys like a seasoned professional.

The ensemble cast reunited for this new film are clearly enjoying themselves here. Even Bruce Willis seems to be making an effort. Although John Malkovich once again threatens to steal the show as Frank’s buddie, Marvin – particularly when dispensing ‘expert’ relationship advice to Willis and Parker’s tiffing couple. Along the way we also meet David Thewlis as a wine-quaffing psycho, Catherine Zeta Jones as a Soviet agent (and Frank’s former flame) and Korean action star Byung-hun Lee (last seen as Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe Retaliation) as a deadly assassin hired to kill Frank and his cohorts. Brian Cox as Ivan makes a welcome, albeit brief return appearance – trying his best to romance Helen Mirren – as she takes out the bad guys with a sniper rifle.

The fast-moving screenplay delivers several unexpected twists and turns (thankfully none of which appear in the trailer). And with the same writers on board for this installment, there is a nice continuity between RED 2 and the previous movie. And there are none of the tired old tropes one would normally associate with these kinds of follow-ups (the introduction of a family situation for example) – which bodes well     for the third installment currently being written by the same writing team.

As directed by Dean Parisot (a TV journeyman best known for Northern Exposure     and the big screen sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest) – the all-star cast displays natural chemistry and comic timing which is spot-on. The signature moment from the original film – where Bruce Willis impossibly steps out from a moving vehicle – is cleverly referenced here, and there is a nicely-choreographed fight scene involving Byung-hun Lee, where he single-handedly fends off a bunch of soviet cops – armed only with a detached fridge door to which he is hand-cuffed. Add to this some great one-liners, well-staged action sequences and Alan Silvestri’s driving score – which keeps things moving along at a brisk clip – and what you end up with is an enormously fun time at the movies and a worthy successor to the original film.

3.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Palace-Nova East End Cinemas, Adelaide, August 20th 2013.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies.


From → film reviews

  1. Dianna Taylor permalink

    Enjoyed film just as much as you Greg. Like good wine these actors only get better with age!

    • gregory moss permalink

      Absolutely, Di! And it’s such a thrill seeing Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins performing in scenes together. Great fun and well worth seeing. 🙂

  2. Good review. Not even seen the first one… Wasn’t sure if it was my kind of thing. Sounds fun, though.

    • gregory moss permalink

      Thanks! Yeah – it’s a hoot. And it’s so refreshing to see Bruce Willis clearly enjoying himself – nice chemistry between he and Mary Louise.

  3. Fantastic review! Keep it up 🙂

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