‘RED 2’ starts and ends with a fizzle

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RED 2 (2013)

Directed by Dean Parisot

6/10  PG-13

Unlike most action sequels (think “A Good Day to Die Hard” or “The Expendables 2”) that start with a bang and only get louder from there, “RED 2” takes a while to start up. But it’s not that it wants to draw you into the story…it just lacks firepower.

The gang of dangerous ex-CIA rogues is back together (except there’s no Morgan Freeman and very little Helen Mirren…just a lot of Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Mary-Louise Parker), this time in a race to find a revolutionary nuclear weapon that has been Bruce-Willis-Red-2hidden for decades. When the gang finds the man who invented the game-changing explosive (Anthony Hopkins), they think they get the leg up on the competition (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Byung-hun Lee, mostly). No surprise…they’re wrong.

Where “RED” gave audiences a lot of action with some well-timed comedy, “RED 2” tries too hard to provide more comedy than action…but their comedy usually isn’t very funny. Sure, Malkovich provides a few witty lines that’ll give you a good laugh—but he’s mostly just silly, nothing to crack up over. Willis is disappointing…worse than he is in even the newest “Die Hard” movies. Anthony Hopkins is surprisingly hysterical as the eccentric, psychotic inmate of a high-security prison. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, his character’s development gives him some more sanity but takes the humor out of it; good for him, but bad for us.

Okay, so bad acting in an action movie isn’t breaking news. Neither is lousy dialogue, which “RED 2” also has. The script, from Jon and Erich Hoeber, is not the worst I’ve heard…but it’s not good. For the amount of times we hear talking instead of gunshots, I would expect something better than what we get. The story is typical, too. Enemies become allies when they join for a common RED-2-actors-2cause—saving the world. Really? How original, guys. A Wikileaks-driven plot was relevant…3 years ago. And when it begins to get sort of exciting, you realize you only have thirty minutes left. And it sets itself up for a trilogy, which was just recently confirmed. How exciting…

Action movies are called that for a reason. “RED 2” fails to provide a lot of action (and a lot of what we do see is CGI-driven and/or not all that exciting) and fails to provide a lot of laughs. But a couple of Oscar winners and nominees save this from failing completely. It’s always interesting to see what these geriatrics are up to.

“RED 2” is on Blu-ray and DVD.

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