Red 2 (2013)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 7/19/13
Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins

A disappointing and unnecessary sequel to the delightful original, that's bogged down by way too much romantic drama. A classified Cold War document appears on the Internet which makes Frank (Bruce Willis) and Marv (John Malkovich) wanted by every major government agency on the planet. The Americans hire Han (Byung-hun Lee) to take out Frank, while MI6 gives the kill order to Victoria (Helen Mirren) and the Russians throw femme fatale Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) at him. Frank and Sarah's (Mary-Louise Parker) relationship is on the rocks, so the extra action and danger adds some spice to their lives. Marv is their constant companion, and he somehow manages to keep them alive and ahead of the game. The whole thing comes to a head with our team of retirees trying to recover and disarm a revolutionary weapon of mass destruction before it can be used.

Unfortunately, the film spends way too much time focused on Sarah's neurosis and her desperate need to be part of the action, while an over-protective Frank desperately tries to keep her out of harm's way. This formula gets old really fast. Marv is not nearly as crazy and paranoid as before, and he's the glue that keeps the team together. Helen Mirren is delightful as Victoria, and Byung-hun Lee makes for a good adversary (he played the exact same role in "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (2013), and gets naked in this film as well). The devilish Catherine Zeta-Jones adds even more poison to Frank and Sarah's domestic troubles, but her impact is spoiled by garish makeup and a disturbingly fake tan. While the car stunts and gunplay are extremely entertaining, the fight scenes are rather bland, as poor framing and choppy editing bleed the life and energy out of them. The film would have benefited from more care going into these scenes, and less time spent on the bickering dialog. A solidly mediocre time waster, but little more.