Red 2 Review
RED 2 is that rarest of beasts; a goofy, entertaining Summer romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously and doesn’t expect you to either.
rating: 3.5Comic book movies have gotten a bit too serious of late. Dark. Brooding. Po-faced. Sure, we all loved Christopher Nolans tortured Dark Knight trilogy and Zack Snyder delivered the years most intelligent blockbuster (so far) with his gap year Superman slowly finding himself while bumming around being a crab fisherman in Man Of Steel. But does anyone really care if Tony Starks having nightmares and panic attacks in Iron Man 3? We just wanna see someone get punched through a building. And yeah, Hugh Jackmans Wolverine may be bad-ass but really hes just Victor Meldrew with muttonchops and a bad manicure a grumpy old codger whose memory aint what it used to be. To be honest, if we wanted subtle character studies of damaged people we wouldnt be watching a movie with the words Marvel Studios or DC Entertainment anywhere in the credits. Sometimes all you want from a Summer movie is some balls-out, unabashed, crowd-pleasing mayhem. Based on Warren Ellis comic book mini-series for DC, RED 2 then comes as something of a welcome relief; its refreshing to see a comic book movie that sets out so gleefully and simplistically to entertain, thrill and amuse its audience. So cartoonishly violent (Bruce Willis literally drops a safe on a baddies head, all thats missing is a Looney Tunes boink! noise) it should be sponsored by ACME, RED 2 sees superannuated CIA black ops agent Frank Moses (Willis) still Retired and Extremely Dangerous and trying to enjoy the quiet, suburban good life with civilian girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) but its clear the honeymoon is over however; Frank all but wraps Sarah in cotton wool while she craves excitement and adventure. Luckily, Franks paranoid ex-partner Marvin (John Malkovich) turns up out of the blue and reveals that, thanks to a Wikileaks-style website, their involvement in a Cold War doomsday project that saw them help plant a nuke in Moscow is now public knowledge and theyre at the top of every intelligence agency in the worlds hit list including that of friend and former colleague Victoria (Helen Mirren) and sleek assassin Han (Byung-hun Lee) who nurses a grudge against Frank. Helped and hindered by Franks ex, FSB general Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the race is on to find the bomb, save the world and rekindle the romance in Frank and Sarahs relationship before the CIA retires our heroes permanently. Indifferently helmed by veteran TV director Dean Parisot and so gleamingly gun fetishistic it would give Ted Nugent an erection, RED 2 is dumb, loud and a darn sight more pleasurable than it really has a right to be due, largely, to the likeability of the characters and the chemistry of its cast. As they trot the globe, bumbling from one unimaginative shootout to the next incoherent action set-piece, each sequence punctuated by stylised animated comic panels, Willis and Malkovichs charismatic double act are a joy to watch, Neil Simons bickering Odd Couple with large calibre weapons, Willis playing grumpy, reluctant straight man to Malkovichs acid casualty conspiracy theorist. Theyre ably supported by Parkers spiky Sarah (who at least gets something to do in this installment), her unconventional interrogation of the brilliant David Thewlis hacker one of the comedic high points of the film, while Zeta-Jones man-eating femme fatale and A Bittersweet Lifes Byung-hun Lee are fun new additions to the team but largely superfluous. Sir Anthony Hopkins chews the scenery like its a human liver as the maddest of mad scientists, more Doctor Snuggles than Doctor Lecter, while, in a happy coincidence thatll launch a thousand future pub quizzes, his Hannibal predecessor Brian Cox returns once again as Victorias suave, lusty, Russian lover Ivan. Its true, however, that there aint nothing like a dame, Mirrens sexy, sophisticated hit woman Victoria stealing the film from under the boys noses, Dame Helen delivering a performance thats by turns playful, naughty, matronly and adorable. Forget the plot (you may as well, the writers do at regular intervals), RED 2 is that rarest of beasts; a goofy, entertaining Summer romp that doesnt take itself too seriously and doesnt expect you to either. Red 2 is out now in US cinemas and opens in the UK on August 2nd.