I remember the first "RED" with a great deal of fondness. It was a great blend of action and comedy, with some great actors doing their best to show that you can still do action films at any age. This film sadly does not have the greatness of Morgan Freeman's voice, but it still has Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and the always lovely Mary Louise Parker. Actors and actresses that I adore, and love to see up on the screen. I state this fact because I want to make it clear that there is a certain bias going into this review.
With all that being said, shall we proceed to the review itself?
I will come out, right off the bat, and say... this is not a good movie. There, I've got that bit out of the way. Can we breath a moment, let that settle for a bit, and then move on?
This movie misses the marks that the made the first movie so much fun, while simultaneously adding all kinds of new bits that make me want to love it still. While it is not a good movie, it is undoubtedly a fun movie. The addition of Byung-hun Lee to the cast, was enjoyable, his martial arts scenes were top notch, and quite enjoyable. Mary Louise Parker still manages to pack on that Nancy Botwin Charm in every scene she shows up in, it is just terribly sad that her character was reduced to a plot device, rather than making her a full-fledged addition to the "team". As always, Anthony Hopkins is a delight to watch, his portrayals of insanity have been strong through the years, and this instance is no different.
The action scenes in the movie are fun, mindless romps. With the proper amount of suspension of disbelief, they work well, and offer up a kind of visual flare that I can fully appreciate. The issue is, they are often spaced so far apart that, it is almost disheartening. During the scenes of exposition, I found myself wanting things to get blown up, or at the very least a fist fight. That bit right there, is possibly the biggest condemnation I can lay on this film. The exposition is often boring, lacking in comedic wit, and saved purely on the strength of the cast. There are chuckles to be had, but it lacks the full-on guffaws that would have made this a spectacular action-comedy.
Another big problem with the movie, is their treatment of Mary Louise Parker's character. Rather than being elevated to primary cast, and being given the chance to shine as an action star, she is delegated to the role of mostly helpless arm decoration for Bruce Willis. Given the opportunity, she could have truly shone, and brought another strong female character into this mythology. She gets tossed into the damsel in distress slot, forced to be a helpless victim. I truly hope that if they make a RED 3, they give her a strong leading role, and allow her the opportunity show that she can kick just as much ass as the next guy.
With the anger, out of the way, I once again want to emphasize that there is a lot of fun to be had in the film. Fight scenes that offer up some clever improvised weapons, a van with a built in Gatling gun, and some utterly improbable yet highly amusing car chases. Helen Mirren firing off guns in a moving car while Linkin Park plays in the background was a sort of strange disconnect, that actually had me chuckling, as the action kept going.
RECOMMENDATION: This is a film to watch, if all other outlets have been exhausted. Like the most recent Die Hard film, it is a victim of the success of the predecessors. Watch it, with no expectations, and possibly a few beers, and you should be fine.
IS IT THEATER WORTHY: I want to say yes, but considering the price of even a matinee showing anymore, I just can't recommend it. If you have a local theater that offers a super cheap weekday showing, that might be the time to catch it. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is a movie that does not do the original justice, in my opinion. I think it would be a fun movie to sit at home and watch as a diversion, but as a summer movie, it is not very successful.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5 out of 10