Back in 2010, it seemed that the elderly population was finally getting the respect that they deserved; they were getting their chance to become action heroes. This all started with The Expendables, which was a rather straight-forward approach. Gather some of the biggest action stars of the 80’s, give them guns, and let them do what they do best. Sadly, this first attempt was rather dull, leading to a lackluster copy of an 80’s action film. Soon after, Red hit the scene, and was far different. Combining four completely different, but equally respected elderly actors in Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren together was a far more out-of-the-box type concept, but one that actually worked.
Red had a sense of fun and style to it, with a good sense of humor, fun performances, and satisfying action bits, which made it a fun summer-life flick being released in the barren month of October. With impressive box office numbers and even some surprise Golden Globe nominations, it was no surprise that a sequel was in the making, and one that had true promise. With the additions of new talent along with a bigger budget, Red 2 should have been a sure fire hit, but is one of the biggest blunders of the summer so far.
Red 2 follows Frank Moses, who is trying to transition into his retirement with his significant other Sarah. Those plans are put on hold when they are being chased down by government organizations for their alleged involvement in a program called Project Nightshade, which was the development of a deadly bomb. Now they must clear their name and get rid of this dangerous bomb.
Even with most it not working, there are still some rather fun bits in the film. These veteran actors have natural ability and talent, and they are able to create a few fun sequences together, mainly which happen in the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film, which was largely similar to the first one. All of the cast still seems to have a natural chemistry together, and that can make for some fun moments.
The one great addition to the film is Lee Byung-hun . Lee has proved in short time that he is a very talented actor, along with being a true badass when it comes to action scenes, but has largely been wasted in malarkey like G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Here, he is able to let his hair down a bit, and really have some fun. Lee is a truly charismatic actor, and is able to bring some life to a largely stale character. Not only that, but he has perhaps the film’s best action moment, which is him just taking out enemies with items in a small store.
The action segments in the film just feel very tired. Unlike the first film which actually had several memorable action scenes, the action here is just bland. Instead of having an identity like Red, which was more playful and ridiculous, the action here is just so by-the-numbers. It’s the same stereotypical car chases and shootouts that you see in most standard issues action films, with no real style to make them any different.
The pacing in the film is a huge issue. Red 2 runs at around 116 minutes long, which to be frank is twenty to thirty minutes too long. While the first film had a similar running time, it was able to mask that time by keeping the film consistently engaging and fun, while this sequel gets bland fast.
The story is also incredibly by-the-numbers. Writer team John and Eric Hoeber really take a page out of the book of cliches. This is the stereotypical weapon of mass destruction storyline, where the weapon itself makes zero sense at all. Not only that, but the addition here of a love triangle element also felt tacked on, and really wasn’t developed enough to be anything memorable.
That is another part of the problem, too much of what is introduced doesn’t work because there is just too much for this film. The storyline feels very bloated, with way too much plot for an action film like this. Add that up with the standard issues double cross and even triple crosses, and the film’s story and characters seem just all over the place. Red may not have been anything special in the story department, but it was simple and to the point. Red 2 has just far too much plot.
The script here also lacks in laughs. Aside from a decent start which actually had a few funny moments, Red 2 seems light on laughs. The jokes here are largely too silly and not very funny. There is a lot of slapstick elements, which isn’t surprising since the film is directed by Dean Parisot, director of Fun with Dick and Jane. Largely, the jokes are just uninspired and cheap, just going for quick laughs without creating any truly great material.
The most shameful element about the movie is how much of a shameless cash grab this film is. Almost every actor here, including Bruce Willis, Mary Louise-Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and even Helen Mirren just feel half asleep in their roles. The actors here are just really going through the motions, not showing anything that we haven’t seen from them before in their career. Even the zany John Malkovich is just kind of there, not having the same spark he had in the original.
Red 2 honestly should never have existed. Red was a fun film for its time, but the gimmick of old people kicking ass has gotten so old after Expendables 2, Last Stand, and Bullet to the Head had the same exact gimmick. Let’s face it, as hard as it may seem, we need to let our old stars from the past just retire, instead of supporting such uninspired filmmaking.
In the running for most tired sequel of the year, Red 2 is a cash grab at the highest level, with an uninspired screenplay, tired performances, and a lack of the fun that made its predecessor such a fun surprise. Skip this, and hopefully this group can do more inspired work.
Take a Drink: for each double cross
Take a Drink: during each random make-out scene
Do a Shot: for how much this film treats Sarah as a bumbling fool.
Do a Shot: for every single incompetent agent there is in the film; go back to school.