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Red 2

Red 2

I yearn for a summer movie season without sequels. I know,
call me a dreamer, but watching movies like Red
is positively dispiriting. I didn’t think the 2010 adaptation of DC’s
graphic novel was all that great, but it did have novelty value in its concept
and especially its casting, with “mature” stars like Bruce Willis, Helen
Mirren, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman playing retired secret agents who
still have a lot of juice.

Now comes Red 2,
minus the estimable Mr. Freeman, and the surprise element is gone. We already
know the principal players and the overall idea. This time the focus is on
Willis trying to shield his naïve Midwestern sweetie (Mary-Louise Parker) from
danger—while she wants to be in on the excitement. We also meet several new
characters: a lethal killing machine played by Korean star Byung-hun Lee, a
slinky Russian agent played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and a British scientist
played by Anthony Hopkins who created a fearsome nuclear weapon that’s the
subject of the current storyline.

It’s pleasant enough to watch these actors at work, but
director Dean Parisot allows Malkovich and Mirren to mug shamelessly—perhaps to
compensate for a lack of witty or inventive dialogue. Willis is solid, as
usual, but it’s Parker (and, later in the proceedings, Hopkins) who seem to
actually be having fun, which is mildly contagious.

Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber devised the screenplay, as they
did three years ago for Red, which
became something of a sleeper success. There’s no shortage of action in this
follow-up, with fights, chases, bullets flying, glass shattering, and things
blowing up. But I felt the movie was trying too hard, and I simply lost

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