Title: Red 2
HTS Overall Score:83
DC Comics based RED was one of 2010’s more intriguing films, hitting audiences with a hammer of action-comedy that was surprisingly fresh. Loaded with stars, the film was lauded by critics and fans alike which can only lead to one thing: a sequel. Not surprisingly, Hollywood delivered. RED 2 finds former CIA operative Frank Mosses (Bruce Willis) still “Retired, Extremely Dangerous.” But that doesn’t stop him and his gang of unsuspecting creators of chaos from charging into action once again. In the process, they create a film full of predictable charm and exciting sequences, allowing a few aged acting veterans to work their magic one more time. The end result is an enjoyable ride that falls short of excellent...but it ain’t too shabby, either.
The word of the film is “Nightshade” and it has intelligence officials around the world clinching their teeth. It turns out this is the code word for a Cold War nuclear device, cooked-up by a man referred to as “The Da Vinci of Death,” planted somewhere near Moscow. Frank Mosses and his über-paranoid friend, Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), have been linked to Nightshade and a bulldog of an agent named Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) is willing to stop at nothing to capture or kill them.
This is all bad timing for Frank. He’s doing his best to simply lead a “normal” life with his excitable girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker). Frank wants to embrace trips to Costco and plan barbecues, but it seems Sarah is looking for more than just the ordinary and her ears perk when Marvin tells Frank that they might be in danger. Following a failed attempt at capturing and interrogating Frank, Agent Horton convinces the world that Frank and Marvin are terrorists that must be killed. MI-6 contacts Frank’s old friend Victoria (Hellen Mirren) to execute the hit and Horton contracts with super-assassin Han-Cho-Bai (Lee Byung-hun) to go after them as well.
The excessively confident Han is looking at 20 million large for nailing Frank and instantly hops on his plane, destination: The United States. Keeping in line with the ever-present underlying humor of this action-comedy, Frank, Marvin, and Sarah undermine Han by stealing his plane for a trip to France; Han explodes with anger and vows more than blood. He wants revenge. The group, meanwhile, is in search of a man they amusingly call “The Frog.” They eventually come across information that points them in the direction of Nighshade’s creator (Anthony Hopkins), a man that has been jailed by the British government for over 30 years. Their job is free him and establish the location of the bomb before any other element can do the same.
RED 2 is a fun film on a number of levels. Willis, Malcovich, and Parker have great chemistry and Helen Miren (Victoria) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Katja) deliver convincing roles as wise female forces in a cut-throat cloak and dagger world. In many ways, the film seems like a natural extension of Willis‘ former ventures in the Die Hard series, loved for loaded action sequences laced with comedic quips and humor. Willis looks comfortable staring as a seasoned veteran of cleverness and weaponry, and this fits perfectly with Parker’s character (Sarah) that is green, youthful, exuberant and adorably ignorant. There’s also entertaining interplay between Sarah Rose and Frank’s former romantic interest (and current Russian secret agent) that leads to a catty competition.
PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news/red3.jpg[/img]Summit Entertainment has produced a visual gem. Red 2 is delivered with an excellent MPEG-4 AVC Hi-Def transfer, providing a stunning film-like 2.40:1 image. The film’s palate has colors that fall on the cool side which results in a beautifully crisp image with a mild blueish push; yellows pop and reds literally drip from the screen in delicious fashion. Flesh tones are natural in both light and dark scenes. There are a few moments where images loaded with whites come across a bit too bright, but this a minor complaint. Image quality walks the line of amazing clarity and a cinematic softness with some minor noise. Detail is absolutely jaw dropping with the most minute characteristics – think subtle smears on a wine glass or small hairs illuminated by backlighting – on full display. Contrast and blacks are sublime with dark image and shadow detail loaded to the max. In fact, treatment of shadow detail is one of the highlights of the visual presentation.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news//red4.jpg[/img]Red 2 explodes with an authoritative DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio presentation best described as active and dynamic, planting us smack-dab in the middle of utter sonic chaos. The film is anchored by an energetic and, at times, whimsical original score by award winning veteran composer Alan Silvestri (The Croods, The A-Team). The score helps to stretch a front sound stage that can sound a tad centered, popping it with needed depth and boldness. Dialog and other sound effects have a tendency to sound a bit thin for my liking, falling short of the richness we’ve come to expect from some of the best audio tracks in recent years. That’s not to say there aren’t moments where the audio becomes extraordinarily dynamic, buzzing with directionality. Several action scenes transformed my home theater room into a firing range with bullets whizzing in every direction, deep thuds of LFE, startling explosions, and the warm purr of sports car engines. All four rear channels are fed with plenty of material and deliver some excellent moments including one that has airplane sounds pinned dead center, whizzing overhead.
• The Red 2 Experience
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
RED 2 is a fun film. Does it live up to it’s first act? Not quite, but it’s close. Fans of action oriented plots will undoubtedly enjoy its lightness and humor, not to mention a few epic rounds of gun fire and explosions. In fact its plot will likely appease those not usually fond of over-the-top action violence. The cinematography is great fun and the film’s nod to its comic book underpinnings through artistic scene changes are just plain cool. Enthusiasts will undoubtedly find RED 2’s image quality to be excellent. While it’s audio stumbles with a slightly thin presentation, it’s still very good. Overall, it’s easy to recommend this film as part of an evening of entertainment. Just don’t expect too much and RED 2 will likely deliver.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich
Directed by: Dean Pariso
Written by: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Runtime: 116 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 26, 2013
Buy Red 2 on Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It