"Red 2" (2013)- Movie Review

Directed by Dean Parisot
Written by Jon and Erich Hoeber
Starring Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker and John Malkovich

‘As Bland as Sequels Get’

By settling in a vast ocean of laziness and boredom in it’s first few minutes, “Red 2” (the follow-up to 2010’s highly entertaining ride) has established itself as an unnecessary, dull sequel. It’s dumb, nonsensical and silly just like the original, but something is missing… a sense of excitement is the feeling that it’s predecessor delivered, but that feeling is replaced here with none other than pure blandness.

It’s a shame though, as filmmaker Dean Parisot lays out what at first seem like the foundations of a highly entertaining action-comedy: an impressive ensemble of award-winning actors, plenty of dazzling locations and loads of action sequences. Count in new characters as well, and there appears to be no way in which this sequel could to do any wrong. But it does; the filmmakers take everything that made the original solid entertainment and literally shove it down a garbage bin. Gone are the entertaining thrills, interesting story and serviceable performances that elevated “Red”; making this tiresome sequel nothing but an in-your-face cash grabber.

When an action-comedy’s opening scene involves a couple shopping around in a grocery store, quite clearly it’s filmmakers are out of ideas and in desperate need of creativity. If anything it’s a challenging risk, especially to begin a sequel such as “Red 2” in such a lazy manner, cause how is one going to engage the viewer? While this sequence thankfully doesn’t last for long, it hardly does anything to grasp the viewer’s attention. Take away the famous celebrities, and you’ve basically got a blank screen…in other words nothing to look forward to.

Quite sadly, this is the pondering case with the rest of the film as well. The action-caterer definitely has thrills and humor to offer, but they are so few in amount and weak in structure that one almost forgets about them. Its like a single car riding up an empty street without restrictions to a speed limit; the vehicle goes by so fast that its hard to take notice or even remember it. In a flash of a second its gone, and when it isn’t there…the consequences are daunting.

Perhaps the culprit of “Red 2” is it’s conventional and rather tedious story. Whilst the original took a focused approach to telling a story, this sequel is undeniably messy in it’s proceedings. It centers around the humdrum, annoying relationship between CIA Agent Retiree Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and his girlfriend Sarah (Mary Louise Parker). Trying to form a life outside of work, Frank’s plans to build a relationship with his partner abruptly come to an end when an old friend (John Malkovich) summons him. Together, they reunite their group of kick-ass elite operatives to find a nuclear device.

The mission that they intend to accomplish, however, is no easy one; it puts them on a global quest covering numerous locations such as Paris, Moscow and even London. Yet while these places are supposed to be dazzling tourist-attractions, filmmaker Dean Parisot fails to make the most out of them. There’s immense opportunity to use the locations in order to make action scenes memorable, but Parisot chooses to take an easy route. Instead of using the filming locations as an asset, he crafts mediocre action set-pieces that lack spectacle. From a familiar chase scene through the streets of Paris to the usual machine gun blasting, this director keeps the thrills going but they are completely devoid of any surprise or excitement. And you end up forgetting about the locations since the film takes abrupt shifts every 5 minutes from one to the other.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of twists and turns in the story itself. Although the ones in the first half of the movie work tremendously providing a sense of unpredictability, the latter are unnecessary and dull. The filmmakers decide to throw an overload of surprises in you face and the results…are just annoyingly mind-boggling and overwhelming. As proved by recent blockbusters such as “Iron Man 3”, a few effective twists can spark uniqueness. Any more and you’ve got a film that’s as annoying as that one person in a movie theater that won’t shut up.

The cast isn’t at the top of it’s game either. Considering the immense talent involved, one would think that these actors could bring charm even to a film as dull as “Red 2”. The problem here is that only some actually try to act; the others seem to be playing real-life imitations of themselves.

As usual, Bruce Willis offers nothing new by providing stale expressions and rather unexciting acting. Is the cause for this his stodgy character? Anyhow he appears to be, as Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird  defines boredom, in “the sensation of settling slowly to the bottom of the ocean” (Harper 44).

Willis’ co-star Mary-Louise Parker is only irritating. She plays his undeniably childish girlfriend that would do anything to have fun. Its clear from the beginning that this character is stereotypical as well as loudmouthed, but Parker worsens the situation like scratching chalk on a board.

The ever-so-quirky John Malkovich cracks up many jokes, but most of the them fall flat on his face. Helen Mirren is quite distinguished yet doesn’t have much of a character to work with. And Catherine Zeta-Jones frankly appears to be totally wasted.

The charming and charismatic Anthony Hopkins makes a fascinating appearance halfway through “Red 2”. But by then, the curtains have long been drawn and the bombs already blasted for this mere time pass that neither has brains nor a heart.

2/5 stars

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