Red 2 is a very obvious film. It’s pleasant enough, but you know what you’re getting, which is old actors engaging in Bond-esque behavior. It’s all fluffy and light, and seems geared towards Sunday afternoon cable viewing. On that level it delivers. But whether it’s demeaning or charming that so many talented performers are doing something so beneath them is up to the viewer. Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren lead the cast and my review of Red 2 follows after the jump.
The film opens with Frank Moses (Willis) and Sarah (Parker) shopping when they’re intercepted by Marvin (Malkovich). The minute Marvin shows, Sarah gets excited as she is getting a little bored with domesticated Frank. Marvin says that he and Frank are mentioned in a document that could lead to their deaths, and then Marvin fakes his own death, which he often does. Frank is taken in by some agents who look to kill him, and it turns out that both Frank and Marvin worked on a project called Nightshade, which involved a missing nuke.
The team then heads to France, pursued by American government operative (Neal McDonough) and by an assassin (Byung-hun Lee) after Frank for the money and for revenge as Frank and company track down information about what’s going on. It seems they’re going to have to go to England, where a scientist named Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) may have the information they need, and they may or may not be hunted by Victoria (Mirren) who’s been given a contract on their lives, while Frank is in trouble with Sarah because another player after the same information is his ex-girlfriend Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
The film comes from director Dean Parisot, who’s probably most famous for helming Galaxy Quest. There are parallels as both are about over the hill talents who become re-engaged with life through reliving their youths. But where Galaxy Quest is a masterpiece, this is not. That said, Parisot manages to keep things engaging and there are enough moving parts and different locations to make this a pleasant distraction.
This is the sort of movie where if the cast is having fun then it going to work, and this barely passes that guideline. Bruce Willis is awake here at least. Though he’s not doing career-best work, he’s also not phoning it in as badly as he has in films like A Good Day to Die Hard. Willis makes it known when he really doesn’t care, and in this case, he’s at least trying. Malkovich seems amused with this franchise, and actually plays his thin character, while Helen Mirren never lets you see her phone it in. There’s a good cast here, including performers like David Thewlis, Bryan Cox and Titus Welliver, and the trouble in paradise aspect of Frank and Sarah’s relationship keeps things moving as everyone offers relationship advice to Frank. There’s little in the film that can’t be predicted from the outset, but this delivers just enough to not be boring or terrible. That’s not much of a recommendation, but with a film like this, if you don’t know what you’re getting, well…
Summit’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 7.1 Master audio. As a recent film, this transfer looks immaculate. Extras include a very boring four-part making of called “The Red 2 Experience” (35 min.) in which the screenwriters talk about matching the cast up with guns, and how everyone really enjoyed making the movie. There’s a gag reel (4 min.) and five deleted scenes (4 min.) that are negligible, but one does feature Helen Mirren being pretty bad-ass.