Editor’s Notes: RED 2 opens wide today. Check your local listings for showtimes.
This should be the introduction where I expound on the current state of sequels. I lament to the loss of originality and the studios’ lust for the mighty dollar. Oh, how they pounce on profitable films and slobber over the possibilities of turning them into franchises. I express exhaustion and throw out some grandiose call for a change of ways. But, dear reader, I will not bother you with these complaints. They have been repeated ad nauseum, will not really change anything, and let’s face facts; you’re kind of tired of reading the entitled diatribes. Instead, I will just hop right into my review of RED 2, a towering example of a sequel so tiresome that it makes you question your enjoyment of the original.
Instead, I will just hop right into my review of RED 2, a towering example of a sequel so tiresome that it makes you question your enjoyment of the original.
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) has been living a fairly quiet life with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) for a while now. Frank is happy in his sedate life but Sarah is bored. When his friend Marvin (John Malkovich) turns up with his typical paranoid musings of impending doom, Frank is quick to push him away. Unfortunately for him, there is no fighting the inevitable. After a leaked article implicating Frank and Marvin in a long ago covert operation hits the web, the two are on every major government’s most wanted list. In hopes of staying alive and clearing their names they hop the globe as the complexity of their situation slowly reveals itself.
RED was certainly not a good film, but it was a fun one. I expressed more than my share of joy in watching the first film with the aged, and often viewed as useless, individuals driving the action. The film never took itself too seriously and knew when to just let its cast enjoy themselves. It was light and airy but so is cotton candy and I love that stuff. Sequels mean more, so I hoped for more action, more laughs and just overall more fun. There certainly is more this time around, just none of the more I was hoping for. Instead of increasing the action, upping the hijinks or pushing the realm of the ridiculous, the team behind RED 2 decided to raise the bar in annoyance and boredom.
I love me some Mary-Louise Parker. There’s something about her dry delivery and ability to make the biggest put downs feel like a compliment with the simplest smile that just charms me to death. Over the course of eight seasons of Weeds she never got on my nerves, despite a writing staff in later seasons that seemed bent on doing so. Therefore, imagine my surprise when I found her to be insufferably annoying for the entirety of the film. Her character is like some lost child continuously yapping at Bruce Willis’s feet rather than a grown adult. Seemingly modeled after a child that begs her parents to take her to a toy store on Black Friday, her insistence to plunge Frank back into a life of violence that he has wisely left is grating. Her ineptitude in the action laced proceedings gives the film the feeling of a feature length chaperone mission, a video game trope that has been hated by all since its introduction. By the end she gets some moments to shine but it is just too little too late.
There is plenty more wrong with the film. It is trying so very hard to surprise you. Every moment is followed by some inexplicable twist that makes less sense than the one that precedes it.
There is plenty more wrong with the film. It is trying so very hard to surprise you. Every moment is followed by some inexplicable twist that makes less sense than the one that precedes it. They are made all the more unbelievable by the fact that everybody seems to know someone within the film that had an awareness of it before it even occurred. You can’t tell me that every character knew what was going to happen or knew someone that knew and hold onto a hope of relevancy. Its withholding of pertinent information for the appearance of suspense is contrived. Additionally, the actors just don’t seem to care anymore. Bruce Willis is barely present with somnambulant line readings and a disgruntled air that permeates the majority of his recent work. John Malkovich, who hosted many of the outlandish antics of the prior film, is crippled by the script. His lines are less than clever and the character devolves into a series of weird clothes and funny hats. The film manages moments of enjoyment. Brian Cox replicates the joie de vivre he displayed in the previous film and shines in his scenes, especially in his romancing of Helen Mirren. The fights featuring Byung-hun Lee are choreographed wonderfully although the rapid cutting and unfocused camerawork tries its hardest to distract. In the end, the rare moments of intrigue are fleeting, arising in spite of the filmmakers’ actions rather than because of them.
I don’t expect to have every film knock my socks off. I am perfectly content with one that captures my attention and keeps me entertained throughout its runtime. My appreciation of great film has its direct opposite in my derision for wasteful film. That’s what RED 2 is, just a colossal waste of time. Perhaps most galling is that I know that these characters can be enjoyable. RED offered a healthy dose of big screen fun. Sure it was stupid, but in that really good way. The sequel comes across as a slog for all those involved. A brainless script with delusions of grandeur and characters robbed of charm do not make for cinema worth your money. Droning exposition and unnecessarily frequent globe hopping couple to provide a boring and sometimes confusing story. The minute samplings of excitement feel borrowed from a much less downtrodden film. RED 2 is a tedious mess and its predecessor’s success leaves it feeling like one big missed opportunity.
[notification type=”star”]28/100 ~ PAINFUL. RED 2 is a tedious mess and its predecessor’s success leaves it feeling like one big missed opportunity.[/notification]