firstname.lastname@example.org — There’s without a doubt a certain level of nostalgia getting to see the actors who defined action movies in the 1980s and 90s coming back with movies lately that recapture some of that magic as well as poke fun at their now not as young ages. Sure, they may not be the mega blockbusting dollar signs of days gone by, but even the worst efforts seem tolerable as you get to relive the strangled to death cliché lines and see evil defeated for old time’s sake.
Today’s title is a sequel to something that is one of the most clever uses of that revival so far, the spy genre, featuring most of the same loveable team of guys who just can’t seem to escape the world of contract bumping someone off. It’s another case where the sequel does improve on some things, though in the end maybe not spectacularly enough to make one regret missing it seeing in theaters. However, “RED 2” is a pleasant enough chapter to take home and see a familiar gang up to more antics and maybe just the right amount of romantic interest thrown in to trick a spouse into watching another shoot-em-up.
Set in the latest attempt to live the suburbia life, our favorite former CIA killer Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is still struggling to redefine himself as the stereotypical house husband, even though his girlfriend, Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) seems to have been bitten by the adventure bug. Helping to further complicated matters as usual is Frank’s old partner, Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who is convinced that someone wants them all dead and thinks they need to get ready.
Of course, in the ridiculous expected series of events that follow, they not only find out this is true because of somehow being connected to an old cold war plot, but that they are now under contract to be eliminated by former associates Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Han Cho-Bai (Lee Byung-hun of Storm Shadow fame). Cue a thrilling race across Europe while bumping into Frank’s old Russian flame Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones) as well as a scientist who has the capability of ending the world, Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), and before you know it, you’re too entertained to notice the awkward or conveniently thrown in plot points. Especially the ones where you’ve got what start out as perfectly capable minions ready to kill our heroes and like a Saturday morning cartoon, become blundering idiots incapable of creating even a decent monologue.
However, some of the best moments involved the development of Dr. Bailey from what appears to be a drugged up mental patient, to something so much more. I’m not saying it’s 100 times better than Richard Dreyfuss’ job (though maybe at least 10 percent better) as the antagonist in the first “Red,” but no one seems to do maniacal better than Hopkins.
Wowing as usual is Mirren, who again steals pretty much every scene she’s ever in and makes the rest look like they barely memorized their script. Much like the first, I’m satisfied with the one viewing for popcorn flick’s sake, though won’t rule out seeing what happens next if a sequel is thrown out there. In the end, it’s worth two and a half out of five showdowns for “RED 2”.
DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.