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With: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough, David Thewlis, Brian Cox
Written by: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, based on characters created by Warren Ellis, Cully Hamner
Directed by: Dean Parisot
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material
Running Time: 116
Date: 07/19/2013

Red 2 (2013)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As directed by Dean Parisot, whose last feature was the dreadful Fun with Dick and Jane remake, Red 2 -- the sequel to Red (2010) -- is like a tortoise and hare race played out with a hundred hares on a dodgeball court that ends in a tie. Parisot, or whatever office intern was allowed to do re-shoots, keeps the plot moving quickly, jumping all over the world (complete with major city title cards), to cover up its general nothingness.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is now in a committed relationship with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). He wants to keep her safe, but she longs for more adventure. Frank's buddy Marvin (John Malkovich) tries to encourage him to liven things up. Sarah gets her wish when Frank and Marvin suddenly find themselves labeled as international terrorists, with top killers out to get them. These include old friends like Victoria (Helen Mirren) as well as the deadly Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee) and Frank's old flame Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones). If our heroes can locate a secret weapon stashed somewhere in Russia, they can clear their names. But this effort depends on finding a scientist long thought to be dead, as well as avoiding gunfire everywhere they go.

These are adults in a movie made for brain-dead teens. The rhythm is badly bungled, with lurches and cheats all over the place. The acting is off-balance, with Parker seeming like a weirdly comic drunk and Willis' aggravated double-takes cut too short. Only Malkovich slides beneath the material and manages a few snazzy one-liners. Clearly Red 2 was the product of business meetings, rather than any creative impulse. It's needless thing that leaves crimson smudges on the original movie's good name.

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