R.E.D. 2 – 2013

Director Dean Parisot
Starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins, Mary-Louise Parker, Lee Byung-hun, Brian Cox, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough
Screenplay Jon and Eric Hoeber based on Red by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner

There are many movies out now that I would like to see.  Even so, the Grouchnapper and I went on an early Sunday morning to take in the second installment in the R.E.D. series.  We were not disappointed.  Every aspect of the sequel is as good or better than the first film, even with the absence of character building.  When you have full characters, though, there is no need for extensive (re)construction.

This time around, Frank Moses (Willis) and Sarah (Parker) are seemingly retired.  Frank enjoys it.  Sarah doesn’t.  Boggs (Malkovich) insists that something is up, and he brings them back into the fold…just in time for his funeral.  What happens from here is a series of expositions passed from scene to scene.  What is up is not nearly as important as the style with which it happens.

Most impressive, once more, is Mirren’s Victoria.  She saunters from scene to scene as the most dangerous and strangely the most loyal actions.  There could come a day that she will be the end of the other characters, but not this day.  Each scene she shares with Brian Cox’s Simanov is a treasure, especially the one involving the curling toes.

Willis and Parker share a believable chemistry, but what is more impressive is the way that Malkovich is incorporated into the mix, as a partner of sorts to Parker’s Sarah.  He is always present for some timely advice, yet still able to have the goods on each new situation.  Malkovich owns each scene he is in, even when all he does is roll his eyes.

The best thing about Willis’ performance this time is how he allows all the characters to bloom around his straight man performance.  He is there in the end, whenever the team needs to get out of one situation or another, and he is forever ready to take a punch, kick or a barrage of bullets sent his way.  The one providing most of those, Han Jo-Bae (Byung-hun) takes the spot vacated by Urban from the original.  He has as much charisma as his predecessor, with the same economy of character.  McDonough’s scenery chewing fills in the gaps very nicely.  This script shows that Willis is capable of much more than we are seeing of him in the Die Hard series of films.

Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Edward Bailey may be his most complete character since Silence of the Lambs.  While it’s not believable he would have the physical strength to pull of a lot of his heavy lifting, it sure is enjoyable to see him out wit people.

This is the best DC Comics series, really the only successful series outside of Batman.  There is no reason to think that they can’t make many more of these films without losing interest, so long as the cast remains the same.  Of course, at their age, any one of them could die of natural causes.  Something tells me that none of them will.

(***** out of *****)

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