On The Edge Films

Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds

Red 2

2013/ USA

Director: Dean Parisot

Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren

RED hit cinemas in 2010 to some mixed reception from critics and audiences alike. Its eccentric characters played by an accomplished cast coupled with its goofy action humour made it, but the general consensus is that a meandering story was its main pitfall. Has Red 2 fallen into the same pit?

Legendary ex-CIA operative Frank Moses (the action film omnipresence that is Bruce Willis) is enjoying a nice break from killing with his increasingly restless girlfriend Mary-Louise Parker when he is visited in a supermarket by his old pal Marvin (John Malkovich), a notorious paranoiac who believes the government are following him and wants to enlist Frank’s help. Frank strongly declines initially but as Marvin drives off, his car explodes and after attending the funeral, Frank is picked up by government agents. During interrogation, the facility is attacked and its personnel killed by Jack Horton (Neil McDonough). Moses skilfully evades Horton whilst handcuffed and escapes the government facility to learn that he is wanted in connection with an ‘Operation Nightshade’ he may or may not have had anything to do with at some point in his murky past. Faster than you can say ‘retired and extremely dangerous’ Frank Moses has the deadliest assassins in the world gunning for him after he finds himself at the lofty, notorious peak of Interpol’s most wanted.

Frank’s adventure leads him into contact with a whole fresh bunch of colourful eccentrics, madmen and homicidal maniacs: David Thewlis (Basic Instinct, Harry Potter) makes a surprise appearance (for me at least) as hard-core wine connoisseur ‘The Frog’, Zeta-Jones appears as an old flame of Moses’ and Russian agent, Lee Byung-hun flaunts his martial arts as the world’s most lethal contract killer and Anthony Hopkins makes a stand-out performance as a clinically insane scientist whilst avoiding any Lekter-esque parallels beyond a fondness for literature and classical music.

Malkovich’s return as the hilarious Marvin is very welcome as he has an uncanny ability to fill the room with laughter with nothing more than a tight pursing of his lips and a flick of his eyes. The action may be toothless, with any instance of bleeding happening from someone’s nose after a fistfight, but it’s plentiful and well-choreographed. Willis seems to be growing into this role as the feeling of tiredness enters his portrayal of John McClane.

Bottom line is, RED 2 has taken everything from its predecessor and made it bigger and better. The plot is more engaging if a little simplistic, the characters are more compelling and there are plenty more locales and though the film jumps back and forth between continents, it’s still easy to maintain track of where you are.

A really fun movie with a sometimes dark, sometimes daft sense of humour and if you get past the fact that people bleed after a little fisticuffs but not after being shot or stabbed in the throat then it’s a pretty enjoyable thrill-ride with more than enough to set it apart from other action contemporaries.


-Saul Nix


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