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.
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.)