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Movie: Red 2

Much to my delight, Red 2 opened a day early at my local theater. So I dragged my daughter to go with me as my hubby and son were off camping for the week. And when I say dragged, I also mean to say drugged as well since she just had her wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday. She’s doing surprisingly well and was all too willing to go. Probably due to cabin fever. But I digress.

Red (the first one) is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s got Karl Urban in it for crying out loud! So I knew going in that the sequel had some pretty big shoes to fill.

My favorite conversation is in the trailer in this post, but it’s one of the most enjoyable conversations in the film:

[Marvin] If there’s one thing I love, it’s women and covert ops.
[Frank] That’s two things.
[Han] No, grasshopper. It is not.

So, did Red 2 deliver? Yes and no. I thought the story was good and the action was great. But a lot of the charm from the first movie seemed to have dimmed. Does that mean Red 2 isn’t worth seeing? Not at all. It’s a fun movie that entertains.

What I did like:

  1. Byung Hun Lee. Hands down, his performance in this movie was wonderful. As Han Cho Bai, the world’s greatest assassin, he’s a formidable force to be reckoned with. But secretly I think he likes to tangle with Frank Moses (Willis) too much to actually kill him.
  2. Before seeing Red I merely liked Helen Mirren, but after seeing her in these movies as Victoria, I have become a real fan of her as an actress. She is one stylishly cool cucumber.
  3. John Malkovich. His character, Marvin, is a lot saner in this movie, but Malkovich’s facial expressions are too much fun.
  4. Brian Cox as Ivan, the romantic ex-cold war KGB agent and, I suspect, the only person on the planet who can call Victoria “Bunny” without getting a bullet between the eyes.
  5. Action, action and more action.

What I didn’t like:

  1. While I get the need for growth, at times I felt as if Frank (Willis) was a little too whiny in this movie in regards to his girlfriend, Sarah (Parker). He wasn’t as strong or confident this time around and I think the film suffered because of it.
  2. There were times when this film felt as though it were trying too hard.
  3. Repeated gags from the first movie. While there were some really nice vignettes and sequences, many of the things that hearkened back to the first movie felt forced. For example, the scene where Katja (Zeta-Jones) sends the car spinning toward Moses to slide into while she changes seats was reminiscent of the first movie when Moses steps out of the spinning police cruiser in New Orleans to shoot Cooper (Urban). But the scene had too much of a CGI feel to is and it lost its appeal.
  4. The new players in this film never quite feel a part of the story because they lacked careful development. Katja (Zeta-Jones) was too over the top, and we never get a real sense of just how dangerous or crazy Bailey (Hopkins) is or why he was locked up for so long rather than simply eliminated.
  5. Marvin was almost too sane in this movie. His craziness and spot on paranoia were a big part of this character’s appeal. It was all but nonexistent in this movie.

I certainly don’t want to leave Bruce Willis or Mary-Louise Parker out in the cold here. Their performances were nice reprisals of the original characters, but I felt the scripted feel of the relationship woes held them back.

Am I guilty of comparing this movie with the first one? Of course. It’s a sequel. It’s the same characters I grew to love the first time around, so it’s inherent that I’ll compare it. That being said, Red 2 is certainly entertaining, but if you’re expecting something as good as the first movie, don’t hold your breath.

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