‘Red 2′ as shockingly pretty good as the first

Mary-Louise Parker, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich stroll from an explosion in loud clothes in "RED 2." Credit: Summit Entertainment LLC
Mary-Louise Parker, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich stroll away from an explosion in loud clothes in “Red 2.”
Credit: Summit Entertainment LLC

‘Red 2′
Director: Dean Parisot
Stars: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker
Rating: PG-13
3 (out of 5) Globes

The first “Red” was the kind of movie that was almost as good as one would irrationally hope. Slight but jolly, it took a pile of near-geriatric non-action stars — notably John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman — and put big guns in their hands. It’s a simple formula, but it works, especially with a relaxed Bruce Willis as their ringleader, whose inclusion played as tacit omission that perhaps the very similar “The Whole Nine Yards” was as fallow as it seemed.

The only significant drawback was that it had origin story duties. It had to waste time getting its cast of ex-assassin olds together in the first place. “Red 2” has no such burden. Willis’ Frank Moses quickly drops his bizarre suburban idyll, much to the joy of civilian girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who finds herself weirdly bored by a man’s man so in love with Costco. Unkempt freak Marvin (Malkovich) dies in the opening, but is alive again within five minutes — a goofy development that sets the tone for the mildly inventive silliness that follows.

The MacGuffin this time involves a big, deadly bomb that has been wrongly blamed on Frank and company. Lost in America last time, the team globetrots to clear their name and find the real perp. Newbies include a fearsome killer-for-hire (South Korean megastar Lee Byung-hun), a former flame of Frank’s with a disappearing-reappearing Russian accent (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Anthony Hopkins as a brilliant scientist locked away in a tower cell who may be (spoiler: is) less doddering than he lets on.

The tone is a little more aligned with the cast, too. The director this time is Dean Parisot, who once upon a time helmed the delightful “Star Trek” twist “Galaxy Quest.” The script for “Red 2” is far less clever than that: It’s a Bond ripoff with twists no one cares about, all of it merely a backdrop for rampant silliness and incongruous (albeit PG-13) violence. It delivers on both. David Thewlis briefly swings by as a gun-toting epicure named “The Frog,” who moans “Why is it tyrants never appreciate Burgundy?” The sequel affords even more iterations of Helen Mirren rocking Vin Diesel moves, once while playfully curling her toes.

As with the first, the film delivers slightly better than expected while still being mildly disappointing. One of the better jokes is there’s a deep, dense history for these characters — countless crazy adventures that could spawn endless prequels. The film could more playfully allude to these escapades, or failing that go even more OTT with the cartoonish violence. Only giving Malkovich, who stole the first, a passable amount to do is endemic of this sequel’s mild problems.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…