As evidenced in The Expendables series, old heroes never die – they just become crankier. As movie audiences age, it makes sense aiming for ageing action fanatics. Red 2 nicely fits this bill with its use of mature avengers adept at action whilst revelling in witty repartee. Based on a graphic novel series, the deft mix of humour and gunplay proves action elder statesmen can be just as explosive as their younger counterparts.
Former CIA operatives Frank (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are enjoying retirement. Free from a life of skulduggery, their best laid plans are interrupted by former colleague Marvin (John Malkovich). Revealing a contract has been put on their lives due to a previous mission, Marvin enlists their help. With deadly killers Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Han (Lee Byung-hun) on their trail, peace and tranquillity become fleeting notions in the agents’ increasingly perilous lives.
Entertaining due to an amusing script Red 2 is a mostly enjoyable ride. It succeeds due to the good use of its concept. The notion of old agents continuing long-ago battles add some intrigue amongst the silliness. Thankfully the humour aids in keeping the plot moving with some well-staged action sequences. Although Willis virtually sleep-walks through proceedings, his co-stars more than equip themselves with the arch script.
Whilst predictable, Red 2 never loses its sense of fun. You don’t have to think too hard about what’s happening with Dean Parisot’s direction skilfully utilising the foreign locales. This genuine international scope helps in broadening the threat facing the heroes, thereby increasing the tension. Red 2 isn’t a world-beating action flick but it does the job in providing escapist nonsense with ease.
It’s always a pleasure seeing a group of acting veterans have fun, which they do in Red 2. It should raise a reluctant smile or two from hardened cynics and make one wonder how dangerous retired heroes can still be.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 6