Craig's First Take: "Red 2"

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Frank Moses and his motley crew of retired assassins return for a second outing. But will he be up against some of his own?
2.5

In case you didn’t get the joke in “Red 1”, here’s “Red 2”. The tongue-in-cheek action series from DC comics, again adapted into a screenplay by Erich and Jon Hoeber, is still poking fun at action movie tropes like having Helen Mirren shooting two guns out both the driver and passenger side window of a spinning car or having Bruce Willis effortlessly glide his ass into the seat of another spinning car. It still thinks the bickering relationship between retired, but extremely dangerous CIA man Frank Moses (Willis) and his action junkie girlfriend Sarah (Mary Louise Parker) can sustain laughs, and that when other agents like the LSD-addled Marvin (John Malkovich) and MI-6 agent Victoria (Mirren) offer relationship advice it’s still the funniest thing. Also there’s Marvin’s oddball shtick and the laid-back dialogue where even talking about murder is tinged with sarcasm. What passes for a plot has Frank and Marvin being hunted by the Pentagon for some nuclear mission in Moscow they were both involved in years ago. Sarah follows in tow, eager for adventure, which is another thing the movie thinks is funnier than it is. Mirren’s Victoria of course comes back to help the guys out. Catherine Zeta-Jones shows up as a Russian counter intelligence officer previously involved with Frank (her appearance makes Sarah jealous, which is about the extent of her role in the film), Korean action star Lee Byung-Hun is an assassin hired by the Pentagon and his physicality in the martial arts department is the only thing that lifts director Dean Parisot’s jokey action sequences (gun-battles, car chases), and Anthony Hopkins is also on hand as a brain-scrambled scientist who has been imprisoned for 32 years. “Red 2” takes us from France to London to Russia and occasionally into a decent plot twist, and I guess if you liked the first one, this is more of the same. But if you felt like the joke was starting to wear thin even before the 2 hour run time of the first one was over, then you might just want to steer clear.