Should have let these sleeping dogs lie.
Red has always been one of those movies that I find myself compelled to stop and watch whenever it’s on, and to this day it’s one of my favorite films based on a comic book. It’s too bad I can’t say the same for the sequel, which is absolutely disgraceful. Sure, it has a lot of the same actors returning for the second go around, and it even introduces a few more (the impeccably cast Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones), but it just does have the same character-centric style that the original had. And even worse, it’s boring.
Bruce Willis returns to lead an all-star cast in a globe-spanning adventure involving Cold War secrets and a weapon of mass destruction. However, this is not the same Frank Moses that we all knew and loved from the original Red. Instead, he feels more like a character that should very much be retired. Red 2 boasts some impressive action sequences in it, most thanks to newcomer to the series Byung-han Lee. Even with all the explosions and gun fights, though, it seems like Red 2 has lost sight of the spirit that the first one embodied so well.
This is probably because director Robert Schwentke was replaced by Dean Parisot, and while Parisot has had success with some previous comedies, Red 2 seemed like too much for him to handle.The film tries its best to add to the idiosyncrasies that made us love the original Red so much, but this time around it all feels desperate and repetitive. The only actor who manages to make his character stand out is Hopkins, and even then he starts fading quickly by the end of the film (which is nearly two hours long). Willis and John Malkovich seem to share a lackluster charisma this time around, probably because they didn’t have Morgan Freeman around to draw attention from themselves when it mattered most. Even Mary-Louise Parker turns in a tepid performance and starts to get downright annoying after the first act as Red 2 desperately tries to hang its hat on the whole “things are getting stale in the relationship” cliché.
I think what really ended up dragging the movie down was that it lacks a certain element of surprise that the first one had. Redwas a pleasant discovery as the audience slowly learned just how badass all the retirees were. The sequel, though, just starts off with the characters being the best at what they do. While Helen Mirren keeps the contrast alive and well as the delightfully posh contract killer, the others just get mind-numbing after a while.
Even the tone seems like a shadow of the original. It tries to remain lighthearted and fun, but this is undermined by the needlessly complicated (and yet somehow incredibly simplistic) plot that the actors are forced to trudge through.
Red 2 doesn’t offer anything new, and even takes away from its predecessor, which I once loved so much. I can’t blame the first film for the failings of the second, but I can be disappointed. The first Red was a quirky, fun film. Its sequel tries to be exactly that, but only comes off like that kid from school who repeats everything the popular kids say just get a secondhand laugh. I honestly, don’t think that anyone who enjoyed the first one should see the sequel, and if you haven’t seen Red, it’s probably on TV right now and is a better use of your time.