Saturday, July 27, 2013


As part of the 2013 Summer of Reboots and Sequels, one movie to be released recently is not only a comic book movie, but also a sequel, to the 2010 movie RED, this one simply titled RED 2. While I really enjoy the original RED (it's one of my favorite comic book movies ever), in fact finding it better than the original comic book of the same name, I wasn't sure what to think of the announcement of a sequel to the movie. Knowing how sequels are usually not quite as good as the original, save for rare exceptions like Spider-Man 2, I was afraid that RED 2 was not going to be as awesome or funny as the original (A Good Day to Die Hard probably left a bad taste in my mouth). Fortunately, upon seeing the sequel, my fears have been alleviated.

While shopping at a Costco, Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and his girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) run into Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who believes he is being followed. While Sarah shows excitement over seeing some more action, Frank doesn't believe Marvin and tries to avoid him; as Marvin drives away from the Costco, his car soon explodes. After attending Marvin's funeral, where Frank believes he is faking his death (apparently he does this a lot), trouble finds Frank once again as he is taken for interrogation. Meanwhile, a man named Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) is trying to get to Moses, with the intent of not only killing him, but also getting information out of him regarding a secret project called Nightshade.

The story serves as a nice continuation of the first RED movie and is actually pretty well-written. New characters are introduced well and returning characters have consistent characterization. There are also a few plot twists within the movie, but they feel like genuine surprises and feel rather natural, rather than seeming to come out of nowhere like other twist-laden films. While the story is very definitely nothing like the comic on which it is based, they managed to take the heavy (good) changes made in the original and run with them down a nice path. And since sequels tend to want to feel bigger, the story sees the gang traveling to different locales during their mission. One of these locations happens to be Moscow, just like in another recent Bruce Willis feature, but with the way things happen in RED 2, I couldn't help but think that this is how that other movie should have been written the whole time.

One thing the original RED was good about was its humor. Thankfully, RED 2 sees a return of its predecessor's brand of humor, having consistently great timing with its jokes to boot. Like the first film, this is probably one of the only movies I have ever laughed the hardest at, and despite certain jokes already being in the trailer, I found them to be much funnier in context. The jokes hit more often than miss, and their delivery helps keep a consistent atmosphere with the first that feels more fun, rather than taking itself wholly seriously the entire time.

Helen Mirren returns as the entertaining Victoria Winslow from the original RED.
Like with the first RED, RED 2 was, I think, cast really well. It's nice to see actors that return from the first movie reprise their original roles, while newer actors do a good job playing their parts. One role that I think deserves mention, based on him getting poster billing and playing a semi-major role, is Lee Byung-hun as Han Jo-Bae, a man who is hired to kill Frank Moses over the course of the movie. Having seen him in both G.I. Joe movies (so far?), while I'm not one of his major fans, I do think he was a good choice for the character he plays in this movie. As for the music, while it does its job well in setting up the tone of a scene, it's not especially memorable, though it is a little more memorable than most others. Also, although I don't normally talk about this, I do think its sort of a nice touch that the protagonists are often seen wearing outfits that contain at least some sort of hint of red in them, since it's a subtle way of tying into the film's title.

One last thing I think should be brought up is the opening animation and scene transitions. The film opens on listing some of the major credits, all the while showing scenes from the original comic in a motion comic style in homage to the source material. Unlike other motion comics I have seen, however, this one feels like its more alive and I applaud the animation team that managed to pull off something of good quality that only lasts for a few moments. Then there's the scene transitions; whereas the first one pulled off some great transitions in the style of postcards, the sequel pauses the last scene in a comic book style before transitioning to an opening shot of the next major country the characters visit. While it does take you out of the story flow a little bit, I still enjoyed the way these transitions were pulled off.

RED 2 is a very enjoyable unnecessary sequel to a great comic book movie, in fact being at least on par with the original RED (which one is better may be up for debate). This is a great recommendation for people looking for a good action flick this summer that doesn't take itself too seriously, although you might want to watch the original RED first in order to get more familiar with the characters. Fans of the original RED will definitely have a good time watching this movie and may end up laughing hard in their seats. If a third RED movie is ever made, I hope they keep doing what they've been doing with the other two, because whatever they're doing, it seems to be working.

And as far as DC offerings so far this summer, RED 2 is much more enjoyable than Man of Steel.

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