Shadowboxer may have initially outfitted Helen Mirren with heavy duty firearms, but RED took the concept to its giddy extreme. Bizarre yet wonderful, the latter pairing was a match in comic book heaven, even if the overall film was just OK.
Betting big that the premise will work a third time, Dean Parisot’s RED 2 lazily attempts to recapture the magic of its predecessor with disastrous results. Minus the spark that came with first meeting Mirren’s Victoria and her fellow ex-operatives deemed “Retired, Extremely Dangerous,” the sequel stumbles into a story about a nuclear device on which Frank (Bruce Willis) and Marvin (John Malkovich) worked back in the day. With Frank’s girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) in tow and CIA agent Jack Horton (Neil McDonough) launching bullets their way mostly for ill-defined reasons, the crew nation hop to one inane, unfunny adventure after another.
The presence of original RED writers Jon and Erich Hoeber should be a good sign, but it’s surprising how much RED 2 assumes that the tics, eccentricities, and general absurdity of the original will automatically carry over here. What was largely earned in RED is now simply thrust upon the audience, feeling rushed and poorly planned at nearly every turn.
Wasting a strong cast (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins likewise languish) the way only an uninspired sequel can, the humdrum has the additional misfortune of drawing unintentional attention to its copious violence and deaths. Presenting a killing holiday with little at stake, the rampant shootings feels cruel, unnecessary, and in poor taste, turning the film’s PG-13 rating into a generous gift from the MPAA. Whereas the strong violence in something like Only God Forgives feels appropriate for the situation at hand, the sloppiness of RED 2 casts a clueless spotlight on the acts at hand and further diminishes an already bad film.
Rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.
RED 2 is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.