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Movie review: ‘Red 2’

Posted 3:53pm on Thursday, Jul. 18, 2013

PG-13 (pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, strong language and drug material); 108 min.

Bruce Willis and John Malkovich aren’t the “real” couple at the heart of Red 2, the action comedy sequel about retired government assassins. They’re just part of a love triangle, one that Mary Louise Parker completes. Her character Sarah may be Frank’s (Willis) dizzy but decreasingly naive lady love, but Marvin (Malkovich) is the one who gullibly fills her in on this bloody if exciting life they’ve led and somehow continue to lead. And he’s the one who gives her guns.

The joy of Red was seeing a cast packed with Oscar winners (Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine) and very good actors (Malkovich, Parker, Brian Cox and Karl Urban) flesh out and class up a Bruce Willis action film.

And if anything, this “Retired, Extremely Dangerous” sequel ups the ante. There’s a new acronym — “ICE: Incarcerated, Cannot Execute.” They’ve replaced killed-off Oscar winners with Anthony Hopkins as an addled old scientist and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a Russian agent and onetime lady love of Frank’s. And the change in directors to comedy-specialist Dean Parisot ( Galaxy Quest) means there’s a laugh a minute amid all this mayhem.

It’s all ground we’ve sort of covered before, and things do tend to drag before the too-violent third act turns too bloody. But Red 2 goes down easily, from Malkovich’s demented moments of relationship advice, to Dame Helen’s tender and amusing Hitchcock reunion with Sir Anthony.

— Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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