I was fully prepared to start talking about how much Helen Mirren kicked butt in Red 2. I had even thought of a few good one liners about Martha Stewart and sniper rifles, maybe a reference to how prison had been good for her, but as soon as I sat down in the theatre the focus on her was replaced. Now don’t get me wrong, Ms. Mirren is still a rock star in my mind but she was upstaged by some of her fellow performers.
I assume most people know about the premise of Red but, just in case, here is the general idea. Red is an acronym standing for Retired, Extremely Dangerous. It is about the adventures of a group of older super spies who are having a hard time being put out to pasture and keep getting pulled back into active duty for one reason or another. In the first movie one of the spies, Frank played by Bruce Willis, falls for Mary-Louise Parker’s Sarah. Now in the second installment the main thrust of the story is centered around him trying to come to terms with her wanting to take part in his adventures. They are dragged back into the secret agent gig with and admitedly silly and contrived story, but that is hardly the point. I didn’t come here for plausible stories, I am here for explosions, fist fights and great one liners.
Enter my favourite parts of this move and the people who upstaged the great Dame Mirren, John Malkovich and Byung-hun Lee. Both stole most of the scenes they were in. I have been a Malkovich fan for a while so that didn’t really surprise me but Byung-hun Lee was quite a discovery. Those moves, the comedic timing and a body like a Greek god. I have no idea how I have missed this man. I vaguely remember watching The Good, the Bad, the Weird but I guess he didn’t make that big of an impression on me. Boy did he ever this time. I can honestly say that his interaction with Bruce Willis was the part that had me laughing the hardest. Malkovich was classic quirky lovably odd Malkovich and was his usual blast to watch. The rest of the cast was at least strong enough to hold their own and not hold the funny back.
If I have anything critical to say it is that I felt the character played by Anthony Hopkins wasn’t defined enough. I was ok with him when I thought he was just nuts but then they started hinting at a deeper past. The problem is they never told us what his motivations were. Without giving too much away they had to either leave him at crazy or tell us why he is the way he is. You can’t leave it half way between the two. That is just frustrating.
In the end though I have not laughed that hard during any other move this summer so in my mind this one is a winner. Go turn off your brain for a couple of hours and have fun laughing and cheering on old spies.
As an aside, did you know that this movie was made by DC Entertainment? It is based on a comic series! How awesome is that? Was I really the only one who didn’t know that?