dir Dean Parisot
scr Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
prd Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian
with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee, David Thewlis, Brian Cox, Neal McDonough, Tim Pigott-Smith, Steven Berkoff
release US 19.Jul.13, UK 2.Aug.13
13/US Summit 1h56
First stop, Paris: Malkovich, Parker and Willis

mirren hopkins zetajones
RED (2010)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
RED 2 Those "retired, extremely dangerous" spies are back for another romp that mimics the 2010 original film note for note. It's sometimes very funny, but the story never grabs hold to provide any suspense at all. And the corny relational subplots are just too ridiculous to register at all.

Frank (Willis) is trying to live quietly with Sarah (Parker) when best pal Marvin (Malkovich) becomes a car-bomb target. Then Frank discovers that MI6 and the CIA have both hired top assassins to kill him: his unstoppable old colleague Victoria (Mirren) and the ruthlessly inventive Han (Lee), respectively. So Frank, Sarah and Marvin head to Paris, where they run into seductive Russian agent Katya (Zeta-Jones). Next stop: London, to locate top scientist Bailey (Hopkins). And when they learn that all of this is about a rogue nuke, they head to Moscow.

The plot zips along without getting bogged down in logic or details, so we understand that it's essentially irrelevant. The main idea is to string together scenes of still-feisty ageing spies who take on on each other, as well as various random villains. And the twisty the script is continually shifting who the good and bad guys are, just so everyone can square off against everyone else at some point.

All of this is quite jaunty, with buoyant energy and actors who are clearly enjoying themselves. There are some laughs along the way, mainly in Malkovich's absurd dialog or Mirren's pithy one-liners. But most characters are pretty thankless. Parker tries to spark up the intensely dull Sarah by making her eager for danger. But these are franchise characters who can never be in real jeopardy. Bullets whizz past them, while falls from buildings and helicopter crashes barely cause mild bruising.

In other words, even with some extreme violence there isn't a moment of suspense. These spies mow down hundreds of faceless thugs, step over their bodies and stab a few more on their way to another confrontation. The film is a riot of ambushes, revelations, shoot-outs and chases, but none of it gets our adrenaline pumping because there are no stakes to play for. The only entertainment value is in terrific actors playing around for a couple of hours. If that's enough for you, you'll love it.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 19.Jul.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall