RED 2 (2012)

Rating: C

Dir: Dean Parisot
Star: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker. Anthony Hopkins

I liked the original. It was fresh, a novel twist on the usual action clichés, featuring a selection of baby-boomer and older heroes, now too long in the tooth for this shit. This one? There’s little or no invention to be found here: instead, it’s basically the same concept, retooled with the group of renegades facing a different villain, while still being hunted themselves. In this case, it’s because they were outed as participants in a secret operation, codename “Nightshade”, to assemble a nuke inside Russia. The man behind the project, Dr. Edward Bailey (Hopkins), has been incarcerated in an asylum at the behest of the security forces for over 30 years.

Stopping the plan to explode the nuke first involves getting him out. Global shenanigans follow, from CostCo (blatant product placement!) to London to Moscow to Paris to… I forget. Or wasn’t paying attention. Or something. And that, as you can understand, is the problem. It’s a competent action flick, and there’s nothing you can truly pick holes in, with regard to its plot or execution (at least, compared to its siblings – a certain idiocy of story is par for the course in the genre). Yet this is so utterly generic. While its predecessor was interested in slyly subverting the things we’d seen a million times before, this wants nothing more than to ape them slavishly.

Considering this was by the director of Galaxy Quest. which similarly became what it was parodying, it’s no surprise, although there are aspects here that are good. Malkovich, Hopkins and Helen Mirren have ten Oscar noms between them, so the performances are obviously going to be a large cut above the norm for this kind of mindless action-flick. This leaves you in a weird place, where you wait for the next chase, fight or whatever to be over, so the actors can get on with their stuff. That’s like putting a plot in to a porn flick: it just gets in the way. I don’t need giant fireballs to make me watch Anthony Hopkins.