Virgin Movie Review – RED 2

Not even Anthony Hopkins could save RED 2
This time the band didn’t bother coming together.

Well, now. I recently re-watched RED 1, and loved it. I gave it an A. So maybe you can understand my disappointment when I say this sequel was the pits. It made almost no sense, even with Anthony Hopkins doing his usual bang-up performance, acting his heart out in a film so completely narratively lacking. What the hell happened here?

Sometimes a sequel isn’t warranted, even though the original left on-screen hints there was more to come. They should have stopped right there, leaving their future to our imagination. RED 2 (still shorthand for Retired, Extremely Dangerous) has none of the charm or style marking the first film. I want to shake the producers for making this dreck happen, for forcing it into existence. WHY?

The original great ensemble didn’t come together. Most of the main characters were completely sidelined or missing entirely. Our ex-Russian KGB expert came in and out like a pee break (as in, his role was like a 3 minute Peetime over the course of the film). Helen Mirren fared slightly better, but had only one or two lines with any of the warmth she showed before. Sure, she can shoot like nobody’s business, but her role was frustratingly fungible and spare. She acted like she knew it. Paycheck time, I guess.

Morgan Freeman’s absence was sorely missed. I know he had stage 4 cancer in RED 1, but hell, this is a movie; they could say it went into remission and no one would bat an eye. Why make continuity a thing when your second best character is missing, without a single line bemoaning his off-screen apparent death? He’s still acting in 2018, so its not like the actor died. My best guess is Freeman read the incoherent script and passed.

Which leaves us with Bruce Willis and John Malcovich turning the ensemble into a duo. It’s like a band of two reuniting on a cruise ship gig because the rest of the musicians retired. This time, Willis and Malcovich have no chemistry at all all. They barely looked at each other. In fact, Malcovich only had on-set chemistry with Willis’ love interest Mary Louise Parker. She did her usual quirky fun job, but it couldn’t save RED 2 from a poor overall performance. 

Who else appeared? David Thewlis (Professor Lupin from Harry Potter), Catherine Zeta Jones, some cringingly bad bad guy whose name I can’t be bothered to look up, and Byung-Hun Lee as Han, the new mercenary who’s Death Incarnate all movie long, but turns into a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Softie in the end. The transition didn’t work, though, unlike Karl Urban’s good turn in RED 1.  Thewlis was quite good as The Frog, and should have been in more scenes. Zeta-Jones…well, looked good. As a past flame for Willis’ character, she pulled off a workmanlike job. The script didn’t give her much to work with. Too bad. Too bad for everything: I was really looking forward to this sequel.

What good things can I say? The cool soundtrack from the first didn’t happen for the 2nd. The plot skipped and jumped; the actors mumbled most of their lines, and the plot was made of Swiss cheese. I still don’t know what the Red Mercury bomb was supposed to be — it sure didn’t make a lick of sense. Wait: these aren’t good things.

Let me try again. Willis and Parker were fine together. Parker’s pleasant presence provided the most laughs. The gag about the gang stealing Han’s plane was amusing, with a good payoff.

The worst crime in this crime movie: it wasn’t funny. RED 1 is all about the fun. There’s enough other, more serious Gun Movies out there if that’s what you want. I hope RED 3 is never a thing. Let these RED ex-agents finally retire.

Recommendation: Pass.  Stream it free, if you must. It’s a much longer movie then RED 1, but that didn’t make it better.

Movie Grade: D+

Note: A virgin movie review highlights films from the past that we haven’t seen before, unlike a regular review from a current film, or a rewatch review from something we’ve seen previously. 

Movie ReWatch Review – RED

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie ReWatch Review – RED

bruce willis and morgan freeman in RED
Retired, Extremely Dangerous

To start with, the title RED in this film is an acronym for Retired, Extremely Dangerous. As retirees, we see these characters don’t have much of a life anymore. That’s the set-up, starting with Bruce Willis’ Frank Moses, lost in an empty house devoid of personal decor. I can see where it would be tough for such deadly folks to ease back into American suburbia, after a career of honing themselves into CIA weapons.

What do you do, after a rough life of adventure and government-condoned murder? Make bogus government paycheck calls in a desperate attempt to connect with someone, like Bruce Willis’ infamous black-ops character? Pine away over lost love, like Brian Cox’s Russian spy; live in a bunker, like John Malcovich’s crazy bomber; or make flower arrangements and bake like a Martha Stewart clone, as Helen Mirren’s wetworks expert is reduced to?

These are good questions, and I don’t know how the real-life ex-agents manage to “transition,” as Moses puts it.

In RED, it’s nice to see the connection — and grudging respect — growing between Karl Urban’s ambitious young agent, in contrast to Willis’ older, jaded Moses. Urban’s Cooper is well on his way to becoming just like the people he’s hunting, but we start rooting for all of them somewhere along the way. There’s a lot of care to establish these characters as gifted, yet fallible people, and not impervious superhero agents. They take bullets, make costly mistakes, love the wrong people, and — in spite of the pain —  they miss the old days.

Make no mistake.This is a clever, funny movie. It doesn’t shy from violence, but there’s a lot of discretion shots and it’s not gory. The soundtrack is absolutely affable, with the whole affair as slick and stylish as Pulp Fiction — or even better, an older and more lethal version of Ocean’s 11. When Freeman gleefully announces, “The band’s getting back together,”  I wanted to cheer.

These actors are known for their authentic character roles over decades of work, and the ensemble meshed like magic. I couldn’t get enough of their amusingly tense sparring, and can’t wait to see the sequel I somehow missed the first time around. I’ll catch RED 2 next and see if the story picks up right where it leaves off.

Helen Mirren’s Virginia reminded me of a gleeful, older Xena: Warrior Princess. She has the same focused, deadly, competent joy in her work; she just seemed grateful to get to murder with the other kids again. You go, Dame Mirren!

Even though this movie came out in 2010,  the actors haven’t aged at all. Morgan Freeman and Mirren both just headlined a brand-new fantasy feature this week (The Nutcracker and the 4 Realms), and honestly, they look the same. Good genes, I guess. (I don’t think Morgan Freeman ages. He did play God once…)

Usually the villains in CIA/FBI shoot-em-up movies are lame, with the MacGuffins fungible. Here, I felt invested in the stakes and cared about the outcome. The Vice President was a sad figure in the end. That worked.

Richard Dreyfuss’ self-titled Bad Guy was a bit over the top (not in the good way), and detracted somewhat from the otherwise graceful “execution” (lol) of a really enjoyable thriller. Dreyfuss is usually an extremely competent actor. But his was the only off-key note in RED. Maybe I can  blame the director for that.

Basically, this is darn good movie that holds up nicely over time. I’m excited to view the sequel tonite, and will post a review to the link soon.

Movie Grade: A

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie review: Death Wish

I really liked this movie. Earlier, I was so bummed when I was told this was my movie for the week. I begrudgingly said yes, and stewed about it for days.

The movie started and I was literally glued to the screen. I’m not into action at all, but this movie had enough substance that I was hooked from the beginning. Bruce Willis was awesome. There was never a dull moment, and let me tell you this, you will root for him like crazy.

The only reason I’m giving it a B+ instead of an A+ is there was one tiny plot hole that is still kind of boggling my brain. I won’t say what it is because it would ruin some other points for you. It’s not a big deal, but I’m one of those OCD people; the smallest things bother me terribly.

I would recommend this movie. It’s a story where you root for the hero/victim and applaud when he pulls off some cool stuff, and boo when the bad guys are on screen. Our theater was full, and for quite a few moments there was laughter and yelling. It was a fun night at the movies.

Grade: B+

Christene Johnson (RunPee Sis)

RunPee.com owes RunPee Sis a huge debt of gratitude. She sees any movie needed with no complaints and has done so for ten years (even basing Thanksgiving and Christmas family festivities around the seeing films). In 2015 Sis ran the entire RunPee enterprise herself, while RunPee Dan, Jilly and Mom went traipsing off to Europe. Sis is the spider in the web holding the RunPee family together — besides being a funny, well rounded person, and a joyous pleasure to be around. Her favorite films start and end with horror (which thank goodness she’s happy to see, since most of us don’t have the stomach for it) — but also likes silly comedies, sad dramas, and musicals of all types. If you’ve used a Peetime for a scary film, you probably have RunPee Sis to thank for it.

Favorite movie genre: Horror, horror, and more horror. The more disturbing, the better. Period.

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