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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. To succeed, they’ll need to survive an army of relentless assassins, ruthless terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the next-generation weapon. The mission takes Frank and his motley crew to Paris, London and Moscow. Outgunned and outmanned, they have only their cunning wits, their old-school skills, and each other to rely on as they try to save the world-and stay alive in the process.
For more about Red 2 and the Red 2 Blu-ray release, see Red 2 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on November 18, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich
Director: Dean Parisot
» See full cast & crew
Red 2 Blu-ray Review
Retired, not quite so extremely dangerous.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, November 18, 2013
Red was one of the more surprisingly entertaining films of 2010. Patently ridiculous but also slyly humorous, the film depicted a gaggle of supposedly over the hill secret agents who band together to uncover a massive international conspiracy while indulging in relentless banter. Part of Red's charm was its "loosey-goosey" ambience, but as a wiseman once said (or at least should have said), "one man's 'loosey-goosey' is another man's chaos," and that's essentially what keeps Red 2 from quite attaining the manic heights of the first film. Many of the same elements—and most of the principal cast—are still in play in this at least intermittently amusing sequel, but there's a formlessness to this outing that keeps it from ever consistently hitting the bullseye. Since this film boasts the same two writers who penned the first Red, Jon and Erich Hoebler, and much of the same cast, one has to wonder if perhaps director Dean Parisot, who has certainly proven himself to be adept at satirical farce with films like Galaxy Quest, either didn't quite know how to shape this material or, perhaps just as likely, didn't feel up to herding a bunch of big name actors, many of whom are sitting on piles of Oscars and/or Emmys. There's still a lot to like in Red 2, even if it's not quite as enjoyable as the first outing, but the third installment of this franchise, which has evidently already been greenlit, had better be a bit more disciplined if it's to completely recapture the goofy magic of the first film.
What could be further removed from the world of black ops and the CIA than a trip to the neighborhood Costco? Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary Louise-Parker) are obviously semi-reveling in suburban bliss when the Costco sized apple cart is overturned by the arrival of Frank's batty former partner Marvin (John Malkovich). Marvin tries to enlist Frank in some harebrained scheme fueled by Marvin's omnipresent paranoia, but Frank won't be swayed to return to the spying fold, even though Sarah seems intrigued. When Marvin's SUV is blown sky high as he bids the two adieu in the parking lot, Frank initially begins to take Marvin's warnings of impending doom a bit more seriously, though his natural skepticism comes to the fore when he and Sarah attend Marvin's funeral, where Frank can't quite get over the feeling that Marvin is faking it. Like any good secret agent, he tests his theory, and is surprised when Marvin doesn't budge even when being penetrated by a rather large bouttonnière pin.
While leaving the services, Frank and Sarah are accosted by those ever popular men in black, and Frank is spirited away to a secure site where he is grilled about some supersecret long ago mission called Nightshade (already fans of the first Red will probably be noticing a bit of repetition in terms of the plot mechanics). Within moments of his capture, however, a guy named Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) shows up, initially claiming to be Frank's attorney, but soon revealing himself to be an operative with own agenda to coax the truth about Nightshade out of Frank. The expected firestorm and martial arts melée ensues, with Frank coming close to meeting his maker until a Deus ex Machina in the form of an expectedly resurrected Marvin shows up to save the day. That then sends Marvin, Frank and an over eager Sarah off on a quest to discover what exactly Nightshade was (and/or is) and why so many people are so uptight about it.
The film then careens through a rather spectacular series of set pieces featuring a bunch of European locales, including Paris (with a lovely scene centered on the Ile St. Louis, the ancient hub of the city "next door" to Notre Dame), London and, just for good measure, the Kremlin. Mirren is back as Victoria Winslow, the former MI6 operative who has probably the best bit in the entire film, a funny scene where she informs Frank she's been hired to assassinate him, a call which takes place while she's dissolving the body of somebody she's already killed in her bathtub. New to this film is Catherine Zeta-Jones as Katya Petrokovich, a Russian General (yes, General) with a romantic history with Frank which sets Sarah's jealousy into overdrive, and Anthony Hopkins, as an apparently crazed scientist with the key to Nightshade's identity, but with an agenda of his own. Korean star Lee Byung-hun is also on hand as yet another assassin called in to off Frank, though the film never really posits a great reason for why Frank's demise is so necessary, other than to give the film a little menace (not to mention lots of hand to hand combat scenes).
Howard Hawks became famous for crafting dialogue scenes where actors tended to talk over each other in a more naturally "conversational" style, and one of Red 2's most annoying traits is a kind of B-movie approach to this same technique. Most of these elements take place between a weirdly spacey Parker and Willis, with Parker's lines tending to ooze into Willis' and then suddenly trailing off into nothingness. One assumes this is supposed to be funny, or at least amusing, but it's just a distraction after a while. Malkovich is even more tic filled in this outing than he was in the first Red, but that actually works toward the film's benefit. The actor can actually express more with his bizarrely twirling eyes than most performers can with a battery of emotive techniques. Willis frankly doesn't have much to do other than beat guys into a bloody pulp and squint menacingly into the lens now and then, but he anchors the film with an enjoyably steely gravitas. Red 2 simply tries too hard most of the time, lurching into completely wacky sidebars (Brian Cox as Mirren's paramour Simanov actually sniffs her boots in romantic ecstasy at one point) and giving itself over to hyperbolism as the film trundles through several showdowns (one firefight on a Paris street takes out buildings and several cars without so much as a hint of police presence). Of course this burgeoning franchise is based on a comic book, so it's probably unwise to try to take anything in either film too seriously, but parts of Red 2 seem like an overly desperate standup comedian begging the audience to laugh—even if just a little—to soothe his self esteem issues.
Red 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Maybe it's just a little ironic that a film with the word Red in its title was actually shot on film, but Red 2's AVC encoded 1080p transfer 2.40:1 (courtesy of Lionsgate Films and Summit Entertainment) boasts a nicely filmic appearance that is made especially lustrous due to some very nice use of locations. The outdoor scenes in Paris and London especially offer deeply saturated hues (take a gander at that cobalt blue car Mirren and Lee and tooling around in a couple of screenshots accompanying this review) and exemplary fine detail (see the close-up of Malkovich's hand in the sixth screenshot). The film is just slightly soft looking at times, with less consistent contrast, with the long sequence in the bowels of the Kremlin a notable example. Some of the CGI is also just slightly soft looking, especially when compared to the crisp appearance of the bulk of the film. On the whole, though, this is a clear, sharp and very precise looking transfer that suffers from no egregious compression artifacts.
Red 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Red 2's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is relentlessly forceful, with a huge sonic assault peppering the surrounds virtually every few minutes, as one action sequence after another smashes through the film with a variety of sound effects. Some of these are incredibly over the top (not to mention the sides and rear), as in the scene where Lee goes after Willis and Malkovich with a huge repeating cannon. Other sound effects are rather subtle, as in the nice hiss in the right channels when Mirren is dispatching the body in her bathtub with acid. There is the requisite surge of LFE in several big sequences, including the great finale which features both the roar of helicopters and the zooming of various cars speeding down a freeway. Dialogue is also very cleanly presented, though the film's tendency to have actors speak over each other means that occasionally lines get buried. Fidelity is top notch and dynamic range is extremely wide.
Red 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Red 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Red 2 can't quite match the effortless ebullience of the first Red film, but it's still largely an enjoyable affair, even if it is a bit too insistent for its own good. The best parts of this film are when it isn't trying so hard, as in the great little throwaway bit with Mirren and the bathtub, or a later scene where Parker keeps repeatedly slapping a drugged and catatonic Willis. Action lovers will certainly get their fill here, with a number of nicely staged and quite impressive set pieces, including some fantastic location work in both Paris and London. This Blu-ray is pretty meager in the supplementary material department, but its video and audio are top tier. Recommended.
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Red 2 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: November 26-December 3 - November 25, 2013
For the week of November 26th, Sony Pictures is bringing both the final half-season of Breaking Bad and the program's complete-series bundle to Blu-ray. Other titles include the goofy actioner Red 2, Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis' dismal The Canyons, George ...
• Red 2 Gets U.S. Release Date - September 3, 2013
Summit Entertainment, a Lionsgate Company, has officially announced that it will release a combo pack edition of director Dean Parisot's action comedy Red 2 (2013), starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. ...
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