Saturday, July 20, 2013

RED 2 [2013]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars w. Expl.)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review (O. Henderson) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Red 2 [2013] (directed by Dean Parisot, screenplay by Jon and Erich Hoeber, based on the characters of the graphic novels by Warren Ellis [IMDb] / Cully Hamner [IMDb] of DC Comics) follows the life of Frank Moses (played by Bruce Willis), a retired former CIA assassin, and his buddies.

Returning in this film are Sarah (played by Mary Louise Parker), Frank's girlfriend from the Kansas City U.S. Government Pension office, who Frank would find excuses to call at the beginning of the first film because he was so deathly bored with retirement; Marvin (played by John Malcovich) also former CIA, Frank's former partner, now really really paranoid after being experimented upon "for years and years, on a daily basis" in Cold War Era CIA-sposored LSD experiments, Victoria (played by Helen Mirren), MI5's best sniper "back in the day," a cold-hearted killer but remarkably good at handing out romantic advice when not having someone in her cross-hairs (or even if she had someone in her cross-hairs) and Ivan (played by Brian Cox), former KGB still apparently NSB, Victoria's lover back in the 60s ("I knew that she loved me when she shot me 2 inches from my heart ..." ;-) and basically the "good hearted guy" that you liked even if he "played for the other team."  (Morgan Freeman's Joe Matheson died at the end of the first installment...)

New additions to this story are Han Cho Bai (played by Byung-hun Lee) a Korean assassin "so lethal that he can kill with an oragami crane" (that characterization borrowed from the CNS/USCCB's reviewer McAlleer ;-), Bailey (played by Anthony Hopkins) a really wacked-out scientist who's spent the last 30 years in an MI5 "secret prison" inside an already maximum security London-area psycho-ward because "he knew too much..." and Katja (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) a über-sexy former Soviet now Russian counter-espionage agent and former flame of Frank's who upon the very first look poor, prior to meeting Frank, sheltered Kansas-born/raised Sarah just really, really despises. 

Needless to say, with characters with "back stories" such as these ... much, much ensues ;-)

Now both the CNS/USCCB's reviewer McAleer and's reviewer Henderson noted the often ridiculous amount of glass shattering (but little to no blood spilling) violence in this film.'s Henderson characterized the film as akin to a "Grand Theft Auto: Old Folks" video game (again, one must give credit to where credit is due ;-).  And I do appreciate the hypocrisy.  But the film-makers did tell a story that left indeed, still, much "to the imagination."  And one has to salute that too.  Plus, this is a film that I do think could be shown everywhere, including in Russia, without anyone feeling "Hey wait a minute, are they making fun of us again..."

So I give the movie a pass, EVEN IF I UNDERSTAND THE CRITICISM.  Yes, none of the characters, save perhaps Sarah (though she wants to be just like the others...) are exactly "good guys."  But even the characters seem to know who they are, and the film series may actually (through its portrayal of spies/assassins from all over) work to help viewers to see all people as potential friends rather than simply enemies forever.

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