movie film review | chris tookey


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  RED 2 Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
4.14 /10
Bruce Willis (pictured centre), Mary-Louise Parker (pictured left), Anthony Hopkins
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Directed by: Dean Parisot
Written by: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber

Released: 2013
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 116

Uninspired retread.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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RED stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous”, but in RED 2 it presumably means “Retread, Extremely Dull”. The first RED had lively dialogue and gave fine actors in their 50s and 60s the chance to star in a cheerfully ridiculous action movie. Everyone in it seemed to enjoy the experience, and their high spirits were infectious.

Mary Louise Parker stole the first film as a mousy office-worker falling in love with Bruce Willis, guns and the glamour of being a spy. She’s the best thing in the sequel too, giving it occasional moments of emotional truth whenever the banter flags, which is unfortunately too often.

Red 2 is louder and bigger than the original, but not better. The pleasure and pain continue to lie in the sight of good actors slumming. However, the novelty has worn off watching Helen Mirren shooting large guns or casually disposing of her victims in an acid bath. Brian Cox has even less to do this time round as a veteran Russian hit-man. And John Malkovich’s wide range of goofy reactions can’t disguise the fact that he has hardly anything witty to say.

The sense of talent wasted is particularly oppressive when it comes to the villains. David Thewlis is embarrassingly lousy as a murderous wine snob. Catherine Zeta-Jones is over-the-top, unfunny and apparently dipped in orange wax as a Russian secret agent. Anthony Hopkins is frighteningly terrible as a brilliant scientist kept in solitary confinement for 32 years, who on release embarks on a series of abrupt character changes that make no sense at all.

The chief culprit here is atrocious screenwriting by Jon and Erich Hoeber (who also scuppered last year’s disastrous Battleship), but the lethargic pace can be blamed on Dean Parisot’s mundane direction. The stunts and chases don’t begin to bear comparison with Bond films. Gimmicky visual references to the film’s comic-strip origins serve only to emphasise how boring and old-fashioned the shooting style is.

Like most sequels this summer, it is factory product manufactured for the masses with little or no thought of quality, coherence or meaning. Its existence owes everything to studio accountancy, nothing at all to artistic enterprise.

Mary-Louise Parker’s presence is a reminder that, way back in the early 1990s, she made enchanting appearances in some relatively inexpensive movies such as Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe, Mr Wonderful and Naked in New York. None of those films was a masterpiece, but all of them were entertaining, meant something and made effective use of Ms Parker’s talent.

Now she has to appear in overblown trash like Red 2 in order to find work. That isn’t progress.

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