Sunday, July 21, 2013

RED 2 (Theatrical Release, 2013)

No woman has ever been sexier
Rating: 3 out of 5 Retired Government Operatives

Review: I'm going to start this with a quote from another reviewer:

" a lackadaisical sequel no one asked for except perhaps his creditors, [Bruce Willis] seems unmotivated to smile at all, much less offer a series of emotions that constitute a believable or compelling performance."

--Todd Gilchrest

Fuck you Todd, I asked for this sequel. So if you want to blame someone for this you go ahead and blame me.

Secondly, Bruce Willis puts in a Bruce Willis performance. The thing that struck me about RED was how much fun Bruce Willis looked like he was having and after reading that bit of a review I expected that this movie would be burdened by a disinterested Willis like Die Hard 4 was. In that movie, and a few others, I've seen a disinterested Willis and how that can affect the movie but I have to say he looked like he was having just as much fun in this movie as he was the last one. He has his emotional moments, which are character appropriate, such as a funeral scene where he gives a pretty great eulogy, his conversation with this movies rival agent during an interrogation and meeting Catherine Zeta-Jones character. His interactions with the Sarah character played by Mary Louise Parker seem pretty emotional and complex. He's actually pretty decent in this movie. They all are really. John Malkovich is the highlight of the movie as Marvin, even more so than in the last movie. Anthony Hopkins puts in a a really enjoyable performance but is limited in screen time. I've never wanted a woman as badly as I want Helen Mirren, I just wanted to throw that out there.

Mary Louise Parker puts in a good performance with two caveats: 1) at times the character is written borderline retarded, emotionally retarded and/or mentally retarded. That's not her fault but she plays the character so well that it's still somewhat compelling. 2) she kills a person with very little fallout. She starts the movie a relative novice, not even knowing if her gun has a safety, to killing a person in cold blood. This moment has a brief second of weight to it via her facial expression and a few lines of dialog but is ultimately played off as nothing. So she's either a total violent sociopath or they didn't know how to write that scene. In which case they probably shouldn't have written that scene since it does nothing for the plot or the character. It adds a little tension but it's tension that could have been replaced with tension anywhere else. If you aren't going to touch on what killing does to a person who's never killed before, the moral implications, the emotional struggle, the trauma involved when a normal, socially adjusted person takes a life for the first time then don't even try it. Despite those two things I really enjoyed her performance.

Which brings me to another really brief point about this movie. Death, killing and torture are handled very cavalierly. It's not just something people do but it's something that people have to do. It's just normal, at worst like a chore and at best like a compulsion. I don't really remember that about the first one other than a single throw away line from a character we're supposed to think is a bad guy who turns out to be an ally. But several times torture is mentioned as casually as getting a cup of coffee, Marvin tells Frank that Frank hasn't killed anybody in months like someone telling their friend they need to get laid. To Frank's credit he does point out how ludicrous it is to say such a thing.

The movie itself is kind of "meh". The plot is okay but not real great and not real deep. Motivations are kind of murky and there are a couple of holes. The performances are solid but they bring life to characters that can be, at times, cliche'. If you aren't a fan of the first movie, I haven't read the comic yet so I don't know if it would appeal to fans of the comic, then there might not be a whole lot here for you. The action reaches some pretty awesome moments, Helen Mirren and Lee Byoung-Hun in a car chase, Bruce Willis vs Lee Byoung-Hun and LBH vs a swarm of Russian cops armed only with a freezer door. The other action scenes aren't bad but those are the best. At no point, however, does it have the brutality of the Moses vs Cooper fight or the outrageous gun boner of Marvin batting a grenade back then shooting an RPG out of the air.. The pacing is good, I didn't feel as if the movie dragged at all. I mean it's a solid movie but not a great movie.

I was tempted to give it a 2 out of 5 because, unless you are a fan, then you will probably be disappointed but I went with a 3 since that's the threshold, in my opinion, between a "good" movie and a "bad" one. It is a good movie, it's competently done and well acted but it's not a great movie and it only becomes a must see based on how much you like the first one. But, be warned, it is stylistically different than the first one. The biggest difference is this clearly has a bigger budget. It's not terrible, I'd check it out at some point and add to the score based on your own personal enjoyment of the first film.

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