If there’s any movie being released this summer more blatantly setting its sights on international grosses, it’s RED 2. Considering it already stars Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren, now they’ve added Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee, Brian Cox, and David Thewlis. Yes, the film is bursting at the seams with expendable cast members, and that’s exactly how the movie plays; like a geriatric version of The Expendables, but with no jokes. Or at least, no funny jokes. Apparently there was funny stuff — I didn’t think so — happening throughout the film as some of the audience ate them up, but it was probably from the sitcom-stylized score telling them to laugh, courtesy of Alan Silvestri. And so, alas, RED 2 marches forth to bring us one of this summer’s — and the year’s — worst film so far.
Frank Moses (Willis) is back, along with civilian-girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) playing house, spending time shopping at Costco. Crazy Marvin (Malkovich) stalks Frank through the gaylords reminding him that he hasn’t killed anyone in months. Considering they’re retired, they shouldn’t be killing anyone anyway. There’s plenty more of this mentality and it never stops, FYI. After Marvin fakes his death in the parking lot, the men in black suits take Frank to a Yankee White Facility where Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) shows up trying to kill Frank.
Soon we learn that Frank must be taken out due to something called Nightshade and now everyone is globetrotting from New Jersey to London — because MI6 has ordered Victoria (Mirren) to kill Frank. Then to France in search of a key held by someone known as “The Frog” (David Thewlis). And back to jolly old England where Bailey (Hopkins) holds the real key to everything that’s going on, winding up in Moscow because they apparently haven’t trotted the globe enough already. There’s also a subplot involving Han Cho Bai (Lee) trying to kill Frank for $20 million, but he’s hardly in the movie, which is a shame because anytime Han shows up, things finally get fun.
In other words, this is the most asinine sequel to hit theaters since Ocean’s Twelve. I’m not sure how actors keep convincing studio execs to greenlight these movies so that everyone can go on vacation to exotic locations. As my colleague put it, “I’d rather be watching Grown Ups 2 again.” I asked him if this was really worse than that and he told me, “It’s more dreadful.” That pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Let alone the fact that director Dean Parisot (Home Fries, Galaxy Quest) thinks that if he keeps plowing through writers’ Jon and Eric Hoeber’s (Whiteout, Battleship, and the original RED) screenplay no one will notice. They also couldn’t come up with anything intelligent for Hopkins to say because he’s delegated to saying “jolly good” and “good show” ad nauseam.
This is a film where things happen like Bailey making deals with someone who didn’t even know he existed in the scene before. Not to mention that he’s never been out of sight of the ragtag of elderly misfits. Victoria of all people should know that you never put dead bodies in a bathtub filled with acid; even I know that from watching Breaking Bad. A scene where a quartet of musicians are playing in the same room even features a shot of them where the violinist is holding the bow inches away from the strings. And if people are tired of films and their product placement, let me make a list of every sponsor involved: Costco, Pringles, Coca-Cola, Papa Johns, Jimmy Choos, and Smirnoff. And those are the ones that are the most apparent. At one point, Marvin is putting bombs down toilets in a restroom at the Iranian Embassy in London and says, “Poop is coming,” and that pretty much sums up RED 2 in a nutshell.
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