Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Red 2 (2013)

To start with my wife and I are fans of the first movie, and so Reds 2 was an inevitable for us to see, and I have to say that Reds 2 is a good popcorn movie.  Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louis Parker, and Helen Mirren are all back as our favorite retired but extremely dangerous assassins.  Even though the movie has it's funny parts it doesn't work as well as the original movie did.  Malkovich and Willis are the anchors to this story.  Their banter between each other is hilarious, and it really works.  It is when the story goes into Frank's (Willis) relationship with Sarah (Parker) that the story seems to drag.  In the beginning of the movie we see that Frank and Sarah are trying to have a normal life, and it's killing Frank, but he loves Sarah so he does what most normal people do and not kill anyone.  The movie is funny, but it jumps around from one location to another as our hero's try to piece together why everyone connected to a project called "nightshade" is dying, and why they themselves are targets.

 Simple plot, and yet it seems all forced.  Reds 2 works when we are laughing at the antics of our assassins as they go about their business.  The humor is dark, and that's what Reds is all about.  It's based on the DC comic which is rooted in dark humor.  But Reds 2 tries to be PC, and straddle the line of political correctness, and the problem is that it was never suppose to be that way.  The original film was rated R, and Reds 2 is rated PG-13, and I believe that's not a mistake.  I'm sure the studio wanted a PG-13 film so younger people could see it.  I'm not arguing why they did it, but for a film about retired assassins to be rated PG-13 seems to defeat it's own purpose.  I'm sure the hardcore fans were not happy, and to try and water down material that in itself is violent seems to be counter intuitive.  The series is based on those violent events, and how easy our assassins dispatch their nemesis.  The comedy comes from how they do so, and that their assassins with heart.  Now Willis and Malkovich are great at this.  So is Ms Mirren, as Victoria.  In fact some of her scenes are the best and the funniest, and that's because she plays against her type.  We think of Mirren as this demure older women when she is a vibrant and passionate assassin.  Some characters make a re-appearance from the first one, but I wanted to see more of them.  I wanted to see more of Brian Cox as Ivan.

The story also seems to be forced.  It seemed more like a video game where you collect clues and advance to the next part of the story.  Byung-hun Lee as Han Cho Bai is wasted here.  He's like Willy E Coyote chasing the Roadrunner, and then he becomes part of the team.  Catherine-Zeta Jones looks great, and has some funny scenes with Willis, but again she isn't in it enough for my taste.  Anthony Hopkins on the other hand is great here.  He chews the scenery up along with Willis and Malkovich.   Simply put Hopkins makes a great villain.

So did I like this film or not?  I had to say I enjoyed it.  But it's far from being a great film, and it seems as though it could have been so much more.  That's my problem.  The plot points are as big as ever and one could drive a semi through them, but again there are parts where my wife and I had a good laugh.  I can't fault a film for doing that, so that's why I like the movie.  I just wish it could have been better.  I don't know why the filmmakers don't use more of the comic book since that's what Reds is based on.  Maybe it's too dark for general audiences, but when you water down material so it plays better with a the general public you defeat what Reds is all about.

All I can say is that the movie could have been better, but maybe they'll release it with additional footage that they cut out for time or footage that they deemed to hardcore for a PG-13.  But for a fun escapist night or afternoon Reds 2 isn't that bad.  It's just not that great also, and that's it's problem.

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