Thursday, July 18, 2013

Saving the World Again in Red 2


“Red 2” Good for a Few Laughs

By Skip Sheffield

“Red” was an amusing novelty the first time around in 2010. Red stands for “Retired Extremely Dangerous” and that described retired CIA black operatives Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) along with spy wannabe Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), Frank’s case worker.
The gang is back for “Red 2.” Frank and Sarah are now an item and enjoying domestic life.
You can’t keep an old spook down. When Frank is approached by Interpol regarding a portable nuclear device that was planted in Russia during the Cold War, Frank can’t resist ringing up his old buddies and saving the world once again.
“Red 2” is played for broad comedy. Director Dean Parisot (“Fun With Dick and Jane”) seems to have encouraged his cast to mug and overact. The master of scenery-chewing is distinguished actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, 75, who plays a variation on a mad scientist named Dr. Bailey. Bailey isn’t as grisly as Hopkins’ most famous villain, Hannibal Lecter, but his potential for destruction is much greater. Hopkins plays the character, who has been in a London loony bin for 32 years, with maniacal glee. That is what makes this retread so much fun.
Another distinguished Brit who seems to be enjoying herself is Helen Mirren as ace assassin Victoria. It is no longer surprising to see the dainty, elegant Mirren wielding a giant machine gun, but it is still fun to watch her deadpan expression as she calmly blows bad guys away.
John Malkovich has a great comic sense as well, playing a kind of goofball sidekick role to the stoic stoniness of Bruce Willis.
Mary-Louise Parker has a greatly expanded role this time. She looks like a modern-day Betty Boop with her wide round brown eyes and enhanced eyelashes. As baby of the group at age 48, she too seems to be happy to be in on the joke.
Less effective is Catherine Zeta-Jones as Katja, a faux Russian spy with an eye for Willis.
Jazzing up the martial arts action is Korean actor Byung-hun Lee as Han, a rival operative who grudgingly joins forces with Frank and the gang.
There are worse ways to spend a couple hours. How much can you expect from a series based on a comic book? Apparently “Red” has a lot of fans. A Red 3 is in the planning stages.

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