Red, the 2010 sleeper hit and graphic novel adaptation, felt refreshing. Not only were the movie’s heroes all older than 50, but the action-comedy paid as much attention to the comedy as to the action, and the result was effervescently fun. Sequels are, for the most part, inherently stale, so it’s no shock the luster has faded in Red 2. The bigger surprise is just how clunky and unsatisfying this follow-up feels.
As the movie opens, CIA retiree Frank (Bruce Willis) has returned to the quiet life, shopping at Costco with his girlfriend, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). As he attempts to embrace the joys of the ’burbs, she’s despondent. She craves adventure. Luckily, Frank’s quirky former partner, the conspiracy theorist Marvin (John Malkovich), appears with a new plan.
The three end up traveling to Paris, Moscow and London trying to discern the meaning of Operation Nightshade. Frank and Marvin have been accused of spearheading the deadly mission, even though they know nothing about it.
The plot is fairly busy, given that it feels like an afterthought. The point of the movie is action, and it’s all here: shootouts, car chases, shootouts during car chases, hand-to-hand combat, helicopter crashes, bomb explosions and death by paper crane.
While the action sequences in the first Red were impressive, the banter elevated the movie, giving it cross-generational appeal. There doesn’t seem to be much attention paid to dialogue in Red 2. There are numerous occasions when mouths and words are completely out of sync.
Red 2 is merely part of the Hollywood machine that takes any surprise hit and churns out a follow-up as quickly as possible.