As someone who wasn’t a particularly huge fan of the Bruce Willis/John Malkovich weapons-and-wisecracks action comedy “Red” from three years ago, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to “Red 2,” which looked like more of the same. And, now that I’ve seen both movies in their entireties, I’m even less thrilled to hear they’ve green-lit a “Red 3.”
For what it’s worth, “Red 2” ought to please the moviegoers who took to the original “Red,” which reunites the majority of that movie’s cast (or at least the ones who made it out alive) for an all new globetrotting adventure. This time, the Retired, Extremely Dangerous team of Willis, Malkovich and Helen Mirren, along with Mary-Louise Parker as Willis’ eager-to-blow-stuff-up tagalong girlfriend, are running from various groups of weapon-toting adversaries as they make their way to Moscow in search of a nuclear weapon.
The game cast does what they can to make the much too convoluted plot seem like a big goof, much like the first “Red,” but it’s hard to get behind a movie in which dozens of people are mowed down and nobody faces any consequences. One scene, in particular, has a character brandishing a Gatling gun in a way that “Red 2” plays for laughs, even though a van and a couple of Parisian boutiques are turned into mincemeat by the time he is through.
Overkill may be part of the fun of “Red 2,” but there is a major lack of interest at work because the movie is so consistently pleased with itself that it inadvertently begins to feel unctuous. Furthermore, “Red 2” is so anxious to lose you with its overcomplicated storytelling that it doesn’t even introduce two of the most interesting characters — a slimy wine connoisseur named The Frog played by David Thewlis and a chatty genius played by Anthony Hopkins — until the movie is almost half over.
That’s a shame, and “Red 2” doesn’t do much with the characters played by Mirren and Byung-hun Lee until the last half of the movie, either. Still, everyone does appear to have had a blast making “Red 2.” Too bad it doesn’t fully translate to the moviegoing public.
★★ (out of ★★★★)
Rated PG-13 for strong language and an unconscionable amount of gunplay. 118 minutes, 2013.
Director: Dean Parisot. Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich.