For most of us, losing the spark in a relationship is just kind of something that happens as we progress through a relationship. At some point the fire on which initial attraction is built becomes something else. It’s not a negative thing, actually, but it IS certainly a universal situation; hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on books, CDs, etc., all aimed at rekindling the flame. So, when we start-up RED 2, it isn’t really surprising that our heroes are struggling a bit without the danger and violent circumstances under which their relationship was formed (in RED). Enter Malkovich and Mirren with our protagonists Willis and Parker, add a dash of new faces to taste, and you’ve got RED 2.
RED, for those of you who missed it, stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous” and is a designation for the CIA’s and other nation’s agents who somehow survive to leave the life and retire. It also means we get to watch some great, older stars play out some funny, intense, and believable action sequences. RED came out before these all star actor team-ups became kind of a joke and has pedigree in a well-written, well-received comic-book. With the resulting retiree team-up movies being considerably more ridiculous (and a lot less fun than RED) I was initially concerned to see these actors enter this world once again. Would they be able to capture the fun of the original without making the story a caricature of itself?
RED 2 begins with a bit less of a bang than its predecessor. Sarah (Parker) and Frank Moses (Willis) have been together a little while now and they’ve settled into something of a routine. But during a regular trip to a big box store (in which we’re treated to some exposition) when Marvin suddenly appears. Apparently someone leaked information about a top secret mission called Night Shade, a mission connected to both Marvin and Frank; a mission that nearly ended their careers and could have upset the peace between Russia and the United States during the Cold War. Frank and Marvin, and much to Frank’s chagrin Sarah, have to figure out what happened before they are all killed for what they know.
Traveling around the globe and meeting a few new faces along the way, RED 2 feels substantially like it’s predecessor. Only this time there are a few foils for Mr. Moses, namely Han (played by Byung-hun Lee) and the terrifying government agent Jack Horton (Neal McDonough). Lee is brilliant as both an actor and a martial artist and his skills really elevated RED 2. But the real tribute should be paid to McDonough, who has made a career out of smaller roles which he grasps and embodies as deftly as the finest Hollywood actors of history. McDonough’s Horton is so scary, in fact, that you despise him from the moment he finishes delivering his first 5 lines.
RED 2 isn’t an original movie, or even an original concept but it is still so much fun I can’t help but recommend you go out, purchase or rent, and watch it immediately. It helps if you watch RED first, but it isn’t necessary to enjoy this film. The characters are given enough explanation (without boring exposition) to let you really get to know them and the actors are having so much fun it is contagious. Whether you’re witnessing Willis do what he does best (i.e. kick some serious ass) or seeing the sweet, matronly Helen Mirren take out tons of soldiers from a long sniper vantage point, the actors disappear into the roles and are actually completely believeable.
I don’t want to go overboard here and heighten your expectations to the point they can never be achieved. RED 2 is not, nor does it pretend to be, an important movie. It is a diversion, a helluva fun one at that, and one that you should check out some evening when you just want to be entertained. And if that isn’t enough for you, you should know that Anthony Hopkins is also in this film and he is both brilliant and terrifying. That sounds a lot like his Hannibal films but what makes this so enjoyable is the fact that it is completely and utterly different. And the relationship between Frank and Sarah is really well told. Just like the movie, it isn’t the most original set up for a relationship, but it IS really well told. Who doesn’t want to know what happens after “Happily Ever After”? I strongly recommend RED 2.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video is well presented without any obvious defects. RED 2 doesn’t test your system, but the video is immersive and competent.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) The audio for RED 2, on the other hand, is flawless. Whether it is the music, the effects, or simply the dialogue, I don’t believe the movie could have better sound and it has far better sound than much bigger movies.
The RED 2 Experience (34:41) A group of featurettes are included here focusing on various aspects of film production, special effects, stunts, etc. RED 2 features more of these than you might expect, or even realize when you see it. But as the RED 2 package features so few special features, you’d like to have a little more than this.
Gag Reel (04:24) the Gag reel for RED 2 is presented here and isn’t anywhere near as fun as the movie.
Deleted Scenes (04:27) Per usual, there aren’t any scenes here that stand out. They’re just there. RED 2 moves at a decent pace, and everything here was cut for the right reasons. Not really worth checking out.
sI expected more than this from this Blu-ray release and was pretty disappointed at the lack of any real, entertaining, great special features. In the plus column, the RED 2 Blu-ray/DVD Combo package also features the Theatrical Trailer (02:26), sneak peeks of other titles, and an iTunes Digital HD Digital Copy and an UltraViolet Digital HD Digital Copy. Thank you to the studios who choose to do this – I want a digital file on my computer. It just feels more permanent than the UltraViolet system.