Helen Mirren in car Red 2
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Movie Review: Red 2

The gang’s back together in another summer sequel, RED 2. Based on a semi-popular DC comic book series of the same name, the RED (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) films feature some of Hollywood’s most beloved older actors in action roles, playing ex-intelligence agents with a penchant for danger. While I did enjoy the first RED film, it seems the novelty has worn off in the second. Where the first film went right was its original premise; it had a funny script and a bunch of actors (especially Helen Mirren) playing against type.  In RED 2, however, the storyline is unnecessarily convoluted with plot twists you see coming from a mile away. There are some funny scenes, but most of the “humor” involves Bruce Willis barking one-liners or Mary Louise Parker being a klutz/not knowing how to be a spy. Yawn.

In order for the film to be a winner in my mind, it needed more Helen Mirren. If you didn’t know already, Helen Mirren is a badass both in Red 2 and in real life (not everyone can pull off pink hair, especially at 67). Unfortunately, she wasn’t in the film as much as I had hoped. When she does make an appearance, though, she steals the movie and gives a sharp contrast to Parker’s bumbling character. We need more strong women like Mirren! While I didn’t enjoy the film, the car chase scene with Mirren and Byung-hun Lee is epic and totally worth the price of admission! It’s not every day that you see a Dame spin around in a car and shoot bad guys with two pistols.

Bruce Willis Mary Louise Parker John Malkovich Red 2
Courtesy of Lionsgate

RED 2 opens in a Costco of all places (behold the power of product placement). Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is excitedly scanning the stores’ shelves and discussing the tastiness of Costco’s hotdogs with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary Louise Parker). Of course, things never stay this normal for long and poor Frank is quickly thrown back into the dangerous world of assassinations and espionage.

Marvin (John Malkovich), Frank’s closest ally, warns him about a super-dangerous weapon called “Nightshade”, which was smuggled into Moscow during the Cold War. The United States government, along with every other government that knows about its existence, is desperate to get its hands on the powerful weapon and wants to squeeze former intelligence officers for information. Frank and Marvin set out to bring the gang, including MI-6 agent Victoria (Helen Mirren) and newcomers Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee) and Katja (Catherine Zeta Jones), together to find the Nightshade and rescue its designer Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) before they’re assassinated.

RED 2 is nothing out of the ordinary in terms of action movies. While it’s fun to see the older generation running around like Jason Bourne, that concept should have been one fun movie, not a franchise. If you’re a fan of Helen Mirren like I am, a matinee ticket price may be worth it. For everyone else, sit RED 2 out.

My Review: C

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