RED 2 Review: Mary-Louise Parker Provides The Laughs & Helen Mirren Provides The Balls

Red 2 has something going for it that most summer films don't; it's FUN and it actually has characters so fully developed that you care about their outcomes. While the film isn't perfect, it does generate enough hearty laughs to keep you entertained.

Reviews Opinion



Red 2 will put the pop back in your popcorn. Remember the days when a summer film was about entertainment. Some explosions, a little chase, an errant snide comment, those were the good old days. If you’re looking to get off the brooding express and get back into your 10-year-old lovin’ Die Hard mindset, Red 2 is the film for you.

The beauty of Red 2 is that it fulfills on the promise that The Whole Ten Yards failed to deliver on nearly ten years ago. Once again, Bruce Willis has the opportunity to bind together a cast of eccentric characters while not dominating the film himself. Willis is often at his best when he is at his subtlest. Still, it’s not a Willis film if he isn’t kicking a little butt. In one sequence, Willis is engaged in close quarters combat with the henchman of a villain played by Neil McDonough. I don’t want to hand out any spoilers, but let’s just say Willis finds a way to use a chair that does not involve a lap dance.

I think some moviegoers might be pleasantly surprised by the strong performances from the rest of the cast. Mary-Louise Parker is particularly delightful with her child-like exuberance. The film is told through her eyes and indeed the audience will probably find its heart beating and pulse jumping as Parker’s does through this roller coaster ride of a film. While Parker is often the second or third name people catch when looking at this film’s poster in the typical flow of the story Willis’s character is the exclamation mark for Mary-Louise Parker’s punch-lines. Parker’s comedic timing was amazing and brought in the humor that takes this film out of the average action mold.

Returning from the previous entry are John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Brian Cox. Unfortunately, we do not get to see Mirren’s breasts, but she does provide the balls of the film. I kid you not a GILF had the kick-ass action sequences in the film. What’s more she had the gravitas of Stallone from Over the Top. Meanwhile, Malkovich has a more limited role, but charming in those brief efforts. If you went to go see the film for Malkovich you would probably be disappointed.

New additions Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and Byung-hun Lee round out the cast. Zeta-Jones plays the kryptonite to Willis’s character. Her ability to lead Willis’s character into poor choices and the tension she places in the Willis-Parker relationship provide the drama that keeps the plot moving forward. Zeta-Jones is adequate in her role but not quite the femme fatale of her Entrapment days. Anthony Hopkins lends a grand name but a pedestrian performance in his role as a scientist whose past and future seems to pose the crux of the problems facing Willis’s team. On the other hand Lee, a rising star in American films, gets the opportunity to play a trained killer who is out to get Willis’s character. Lee has the talent to keep us riveted as we recognize he is on the hunt while still providing a glimpse of a deeper personality that keeps the audience ready to learn more about him. Beyond that, he also has the second biggest comedy impact in the film. Be on the lookout for the “grasshopper scene.” You’ll know it when you see it.

Red 2 naturally flows from the story begun in Red and perhaps that is because the same screenwriters stayed on from the first film or perhaps it is a testament to the director, Dean Parisot. Parisot manages to keep the pacing quick. As he did in Galaxy Quest, Parisot does a great job of pushing up against the line of absurdity without going over for the first two acts of the film. However, the third act keeps the film from being something special. Whereas the first two acts had originality and clever twists on situations, the third act falls into the standard action rut. Suddenly, the laws of physics and that earlier mentioned line of absurdity they just disappear. All of the clichés that were once upon a time ridiculed in The Last Action Hero they suddenly find a new home at the end of this film. Unfortunately, this does take some piss out of the movie’s stream.

Overall, every member of this all-star cast has at least one moment to shine. The movie will take you on a good ride and the characters will surely put a smile on your face. Parker’s performance alone will make or break your enjoyment of this film. She had me laughing as hard as I laughed when Jonah Hill was raped by a demon or Michael Cera blowing cocaine in McLovin’s face in This is the End. Still, the film is only marginally better than the original.






RED 2 - "Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device." The film was directed by Dean Parisot ("Galaxy Quest"), from a screenplay written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber. It stars: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, David Thewlis, Brian Cox, Neal McDonough, Byung-hun Lee and Mary-Louise Parker. Red 2 hits theaters July 19, 2013.
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