The retired and extremely dangerous spies of “Red” are back. Bruce Willis leads the charge on “Red 2,” the action-comedy sequel directed by “Galaxy Quest” veteran Dean Parisot, with an all-star cast in tow: returning players John Malkovich and Helen Mirren, plus new marquee names like Anthony Hopkins and Cathereine Zeta-Jones.
But even with a star-studded array of talent, “Red 2″ isn’t a homerun for everyone. Critics are divided right down the middle on the sequel, its familiarity appealing to someone and repelling to others. If you’re looking for more of the same, it sounds like you’ll enjoy “Red.” If not, well, you won’t.
Read on for highlights from the “Red” reviews.
“Willis once again plays Frank Moses, a ‘Retired, Extremely Dangerous’ CIA agent who now mock-enthusiastically shuffles up and down the aisles at his local Costco in an effort to stave off the boredom of domestic anonymity. His girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who is decidedly less excited about accumulating enormous quantities of perishable goods, is thrilled by the prospect of some bona fide action after Frank’s longtime pal Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) shows up, insisting that Interpol is after them. But when Marvin’s conspiracy theories prove true, the three of them set out to find who’s been pursuing them and why, eventually reconnecting with former colleague Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Frank’s ex-girlfriend Miranda (Catherine Zeta-Jones) as they simultaneously discover an international plot to set off a nuclear weapon in the heart of Russia — which they are going to be blamed for, if they can’t stop it.” — Todd Gilchrist, TheWrap.com
The Bruce of it All
“Action-comedy has long been Willis’ strong suit, which he reprises here with aplomb, although rarely appearing to completely revel in the role of Frank Moses, as he did in the original film. An ongoing gag about his domestic tendencies plays well against type, but when the action thickens he relies more on ironic facial expressions and all-out physicality, rather than a more refined comedic performance.” — Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter
“Interestingly, ‘Red 2′ may be one of the few films improved — or at least refined — by its PG-13 rating; despite the high body count, violence is never lingered on, which reinforces the idea that it’s the characters’ nihilism and not the violence that’s supposed to be funny.” — Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club
The Bad Buzz
“[While] it’s never less than watchable, this sort of droll, dark comedy is harder to pull off than it looks, and the lightness that ‘Red 2′ seems to be aiming for ultimately feels more like laziness, from the cut-rate quality of the banter to the busy, cluttered nature of the storytelling. Boilerplate twists and indifferent plotting were no hindrance to enjoying ‘Red,’ which got by on its marvelous actors and the wry, even poignant conceit of professional killers being continually made aware of their own mortality. But that irony had more or less exhausted its potential by film’s end, and the actors returning for duty, though still marvelous, have little to do but recycle their character quirks, invariably to lesser effect.” — Justin Chang, Variety
The Final Word
“Sometimes credit can be given for not trying too hard. In which case, ‘Red 2′ generally comes out ahead for being so laid-back. This oldster-spies-in-from-the-cold flick is a sequel no one was asking for. Yet it’s here anyway, and as the stars saunter through, the movie starts to feel like a spy flick molded around a Dean Martin celebrity roast. It’s never laugh-out-loud funny or inside-track smart, but in a summer full of bombastic failures, a lack of pretense is enough.” — Joe Neumaier, The New York Daily News
Check out everything we’ve got on “Red 2.”