RED 2. Starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung- Hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough, Brian Cox, Tim Piggott-Smith. Directed by Dean Parisot. 116 minutes. Rated M (Violence and coarse language).
Red was an entertaining surprise of 2010. It was an action adventure with a number of retired secret agents emerging to collaborate and defend themselves from an enemy. The plot was in some way standard, except for the veterans not only going into action but prevailing. Bruce Willis was the leader, Morgan Freeman an associate as was John Malkovich. Helen Mirren surprised her fans by appearing as a very calm and cultured but deadly assassin. Mary-Louise Parker was drawn into the action despite herself. And Brian Cox was an enemy from the past who was still infatuated with Helen Mirren. There were lots of good lines and ironic situations.
Most of them are gathered together again. While the entertaining novelty is not there, most fans of the original film will be pleased to see the group reassemble for action. Bruce Willis is once again the leader. The film opens with him, quite domesticated, buying equipment in a supermarket accompanied by Mary-Louise Parker with whom he is living and whom he is continually trying to protect. Up pops John Malkovich with a warning that information about a crisis from the late seventies, a bomb entitled Nightshade, has appeared online with their names mentioned. Again they become targets.
Willis is picked up and interrogated but the interview is interrupted by a military attack led by a relentless Neal McDonough. Needless to say there is a battle, much of it in a library, and an escape.
In the meantime there is concern at MI 6 and the head phones Victoria, Helen Mirren, who has just completed some assassinations and is dissolving the bodies in an acid bath. She warns Willis are and the team go into action, discovering a scientist who has been secluded for 32 years. He is the inventor of Nightshade.
And then the location shifts to Moscow, the search for Nightshade in the tunnels under the city. The one Harry Moscow,Victoria makes contact with Ivan, Brian Cox, who is to infatuated and there is an amusing scene of his lying back romantically commenting on her as she lets fly with a machine gun.
Needless to say, there are lots of complications, some twists, some betrayals, and plenty of explosions. There is a helicopter crash with the quotable line from Victoria, ‘don’t tell me that your’e about to crash with a weapon of mass destruction on board!’.
Perhaps the last place we would be expecting for the next location would be the Iranian embassy in London. But there are various shenanigans leading to a car chase through Central London, climaxes at an airport, and a, literally explosive, satisfactory ending.
Bruce Willis is rather the straight man in this film with John Malkovich having most of the one liners and ironic remarks. Which is not to downplay the dialogue and quips from Helen Mirren. Mary Louise Parker is much stronger this time, instructed by Malkovich in techniques and military jargon, and playing a substantial role in the climax.
There are some othersubstantial benefits, especially with Anthony Hopkins as the scientist, a mixture of your bubbly British grandfather and Hannibal Lecter. Catherine Zeta-Jones is a Russian operative. And there is also an assassin from Hong Kong, past associate of the group but now commissioned to assassinate Willlis. He is the striking Korean actor, Byung-hun Lee, who appeared in the GI Joe films and The Good, the Bad and the Weird..
Probably a quite satisfying sequel for the fans of the original.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out August 29 2013.