Film Review – Red 2

Red 2 (M)

Directed by: Dean Parisot

Starring: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins

One star

Review by: Julian Wright

There is nothing more excruciating an experience than a two hour comedy that is not funny. Or an action movie that is not thrilling. Even worse, when one tries to incorporate both and fails dismally. The one-joke premise film Red (adapted from a three-issue comic series) was a breezy action comedy that drew plenty of laughs from its silly and simplistic plot which was built on the concept of old people toting guns. But the idea ran its course. The film was a satisfying, if not particularly memorable, self-contained piece of entertainment. In the grand tradition of going back to the well that spawned anything that made a few bucks at the cinema, the old folks are packing heat again in this lacklustre attempt to secure some more green at the box office. The studio doesn’t even try to conceal the dollar signs that are a permanent fixture in their eyes, putting into production a lazy script (by Red scribes Jon and Erich Hoeber) and churning out a frustratingly dull product.

Retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is trying to enjoy a low-key domesticated life with civilian Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) when he is drawn back into international intrigue. The two, along with Frank’s mate and former colleague Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) discover that they have been named as participants in a Cold War nuclear weapon operation and set out to clear their names, with Victoria (Helen Mirren) on their heels under contract to kill them and nutty bomb creator Dr Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) in tow. This tongue in cheek affair wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from Frank’s former flame Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones) causing tension and setting up relationship insecurities for Sarah.


If only any of this was the slightest bit entertaining. Never before has a sense of comedy and what is considered funny been so wrong. From the clunky opening scenes it is apparent that all involved were not on the same wavelength, (or simply just not interested) with the comedic rhythm completely off. It feels like the delivery of the lines and editing of each scenes try hard to avoid our funny bone. The actors are saying jokes, but none of it is funny. From Willis’ complete nonchalance to Parker’s apparent desperation for laughs as the ditzy one, the majority of the cast had committed to a career low point. Malkovich is the highlight with his energetic goofiness, Mirren adds steely, dead pan class, and Hopkins gets the chance to play and have fun, but his arc comes as no surprise and his overuse of the line “Jolly good” grates. He’s British, we get it. In fact, there are zero surprises here with plot twists that seem to come from a Scriptwriting 101 text-book. The only surprise is how unengaging it all is.

Being low on laughs and lacking in exciting action, the high point of creativity in this film is the clever comic inspired transitions between scenes (used when the characters end up in another city), which is frequent, yet not often enough considering how much of a chore the rest is to sit through. When this is the only recommendation one can make for a movie starring a slew of talent, you know it is best to avoid it, otherwise you might see red.

2 Responses to “Film Review – Red 2”

  1. Great review! Fantastic writing techniques 🙂

  2. […] Red 2 – a thrill-less, laugh-less action/comedy. Oh dear. A shameless cash grab sequel to a […]

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