The old ones still kick ass …
It’s a strange thing. DC Comics has all the problems in the world making a movie about their number 1-superhero (that’s why Superman hasn’t been super since the 1980-sequel Superman II … yup, it’s been that long!), but making a movie about a bunch of old CIA-agents who blow things up and shoot their way out of every conceivable situation without getting shot somehow pays off! It’s two movies in fact, because RED 2 is the follow-up to the original movie that had us watching Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and the always graceful Helen Mirren kick some serious butt! Few things have changed and thank God for that!
RED 2 meticulously changes a few tiny things here and there, but never-ever tampers with the formula of its predecessor. Why would they? The first one was so much fun. Why change a winning streak?
The story – as always in American action movies – is simple but effective. A nuclear device went missing and the team of super-soldiers has to track it down. This search gets them everywhere around the globe from London to Iran to Moscow to even Paris, so it’s not just a group of famous people fighting, you’ll also witness some beautiful locations where the movie has been shot.
The action is important and present at all times. But it’s not the most important feature. That is reserved for the humor. That’s right, the humor! Even in the thick of the battle, there is always room for a wisecrack or some absurd situation.
Much like the first movie, Bruce Willis is still the counterpart of the very movie character that brought him worldwide fame. In the same style as John McClane in Die Hard, Bruce Willis is jumping, fighting and punching his way through doors, all the while cracking some witty remark about the terrible mess he’s in. Come to think of it, there aren’t that many differences between both characters (although John McClane has more successful movies and a slightly bigger depth in character as opposed to CIA-agent Frank).
Wouldn’t it be cool if both characters turned out to be one and the same person? Hah – that would be priceless!!
Joined by his side, CIA-agent Frank can rely on a team of super-soldiers. There is Marvin, once again an amazingly delightful performance by veteran actor John Malkovich who is easily enough the best thing about the movie, just as much as he was the best thing about the first one as well. Not only is it Malkovich‘s finest hour in years, but he shows his talent for comedy, which he hasn’t been doing enough, so it seems. Much like the previous movie, John Malkovich is in one word: electrifying!!
Time to focus on the ladies … where would the team be without the ever-wonderful Helen Mirren? This age-old yet still crispy fresh British is always classy and elegant, yet she is a force to be reckoned with. Her weaker state of mind is a helpful toy that lowers her enemy’s defenses – after all, what damage could one old lady do? – but as soon as she hold a gun in her hand, any gun, no person in her eyesight is safe. As before, Helen Mirren is a joy to watch!
The other two ladies who join the team are Mary-Louise Parker, who becomes much more part of the action in this movie and Catherine Zeta-Jones who seems to be gunning for the same man.
Then there is of course an Asian who is nearly unbeatable in martial arts and even goes a round with Bruce Willis, the very talented Byung-hun Lee. This young strapping South-Korean actor will – are you ready for it?! – star as the new T-1000 in the upcoming Terminator Genisys!! YEAH!! (seriously, if this doesn’t ring a bell, watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
One more thing has to be said about Mary-Louise Parker‘s performance. Not only does she get with the program of humor, action and ridiculously dangerous situations, but she manages very well in terms of acting. She’s not just a pretty picture to look at, but is the second best thing about this movie (next to John Malkovich of course … )
The new face this time comes in the shape of British method-actor Anthony Hopkins. As always, he is a stunning actor and he doesn’t look at all out of place in a cheap American Hollywood-movie. Although, truth be told, the movie does in fact lose a little of its sheer energy once his character is introduced. But we’ll chalk that flaw to the feeble writing of the character and not the acting, which by itself is pretty darn good!
Regardless of what RED 2 will do for success, it’s highly unlikely a third movie will be made. Don’t ask me why, it just feels like this is the end for Frank, Marvin & Victoria. Hey, everyone has to step out of the game sooner or later. At least, the old farts had their piece of the action …
Give it to me straight:
RED 2 might appear as an everyday Hollywood action movie – and in many aspects it’s exactly that! – but it still manages to drift away from the danger of being totally forgotten. Reason number one is most definitely the character, and perhaps even more, the incredible performance of John Malkovich. You never know what he might do next, but you always know it’s something wild, original and probably very dangerous. Most funny lines and situations start and end with him …
Speaking of which, number two why this movie might survive the test of time is the humor. More than your average action movie, RED 2 above anything else is very funny. Whether it’s the delicious discussions between Frank and Marv (read: Bruce Willis & John Malkovich) or Helen Mirren killing a few dozen men without ever falling from grace, like only British girls can, RED 2 insists on being a comedy as much as it’s an action movie.
The only pity is that the movie loses a bit of its energy once Anthony Hopkins’ sluggish character makes an appearance … luckily the crispy fresh performance of Mary-Louise Parker saves the day!
Give it to me short:
RED 2 is a pretty decent and fairly rewarding action movie. There is humor, fairly large action sequences, even a few things blow up and you have a nice set of famous actors to guide you through the mess. John Malkovich takes the cake and Mary-Louise Parker is much better than in part 1 due to her being part of the action. Only a pity that Anthony Hopkins’ character is a bit boring …