Red II

WRITTEN BY: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
DIRECTED BY: Dean Parisot
STARRING: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough
RATING: 2 stars

I don't think anyone asked for a sequel to Red, but one was made anyway. Having now seen it, I can only hope we don't get a third instalment. Red II was far too long, had too many characters that were left underdeveloped, and was not particularly funny either. It is a shame to see so many good actors involved in such a mess of a film. Unless you really loved Red, there is not much merit in seeing the sequel.

Frank (Bruce Willis) is trying to live a normal life with Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) when his old friend Marvin (John Malkovich) tracks them down with a warning that they are all in danger. At first, Frank insists he is retired, but when circumstances suddenly change, he is forced back into the game. Marvin and Frank explain to Sarah that years ago they were assigned to a mission called Nightshade where they were supposed to bring in parts of a nuclear bomb into Moscow. But the mission went awry and now, years later, people are after them. Their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) warns them that MI6 has also put out a contract for them. The group travels around the world including Paris, London and Moscow to find the bomb creator Dr Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) and get to the bottom of the mystery. Along the way, they are hunted by Russian spy Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones), American Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) and Korean Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee).

The best aspect of this film was Malkovich's acting. He was the funniest character and his delivery was great. McDonough was also solid and quite menacing. Hopkins had an interesting character but after the initial promise, he then became rather two-dimensional. Mirren and Parker had their moments, but they were ultimately not very memorable. Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to just be going through the motions. Willis was almost boring as the protagonist, Zeta-Jones continued her lacklustre run of recent performances with this role, and Lee was a caricature.

The action sequences were not very exciting either. These days, action fans can enjoy some ridiculously fun thrills in films like the Fast and Furious franchise or Bourne films. They are so outrageous that action films are constantly having to raise the bar of extraordinary explosions and fight scenes. But Red II fails to do this to even a moderate extent.

Red II falls flat in its action, comedy and surprisingly even its acting. Don't waste your time or money on this film.