RogerBW's Blog

RED 2 14 June 2014

2013, dir. Dean Parisot, Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker: IMDb / allmovie

Frank Moses, former CIA special operator, is still retired, and trying to be domestic; but once again the past just won't leave him alone.

There's certainly a feeling of more of the same, here, but it's more of what worked well last time, so in theory that's not a bad idea. The difficulty is that the story last time was pretty much complete; there are films that have a thematic demand for sequels, and films that don't, and RED didn't. So in a sense my fond memories of the original film work as a strike against this one.

Also this film's nearly two hours long, which is pushing things a smidgen. To be fair, so was the last one, but that spent its first act establishing its world and setting up Frank's and Sarah's initial situations; here that's done in the first few minutes, to get the action moving faster, and things do start to lag a little in the middle section, particularly after the well-signalled Unexpected Betrayal. Once things get back to London for the final sequences, everything picks back up a bit.

There's lots more of John Malkovich this time, which is a good thing; Helen Mirren comes in late, as before, but she continues to be… well, Helen Mirren really, effortlessly stealing every scene she's in. As for Anthony Hopkins, well, it's not his first time in the cage, though he has been better before. Mary-Louise Parker does her best, but among these more experienced actors she can't help but fade into the background a bit; it doesn't help that, while her character's been showing plenty of competence along the way, she's reduced to a damsel in distress right at the end. Bruce Willis himself has a practically immobile face these days (botox?), which does at least give Parker someone she can outshine.

The emotional arcs are short and predictable, and I suspect rely heavily on the idea that as audiences we've seen all this sort of thing plenty of times before; it's shorthand scripting, which is clever but unsatisfying in the long run. Overall I think that if about half an hour could have been excised from the middle, this could have been a taut and exciting thriller; as it is, it's still a great feal of fun, but it feels just a little faded.

It's not the stunningly unexpected story that RED was. But if you're going to build a sequel onto a film that didn't need it, this is the way to do it: give us what we came for, essentially mindless but enjoyable action and good actors doing their stuff, rather than devaluing the original by throwing away the emotional gains it made.

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  1. Posted by Ashley at 12:22pm on 14 June 2014

    I feel this is rather a little harsh, given how much I laughed during the film. Also, Mary-Louise Parker, is acting with the best, and is not as well known,therefore can't fall back on reputation and actor quirks to carry them through scenes. As such she punches above her weight, and any let down has to be attributed to the director, producer and writers.

    Not worth arguing about though.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:07pm on 14 June 2014

    Eh, I enjoyed it, and any other sequel that might have stood a chance of getting made would probably have been much worse. It just wasn't the original.

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