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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Red 2

November 23rd, 2013

Red 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack

Red opened in the fall of 2010 and became a surprise hit. When you think of action films, you generally don't think of retirees. The combined age of the four actors who played the retired secrets agents was 250 years old when the movie came out. But because the film was something different, it won over critics and moviegoers. Needless to say, they started working on a sequel soon after. However, when Red 2 came out, it wasn't as successful at the box office or with critics. Is it really weaker? Is it so weak that it isn't worth checking out if you liked the first one?

The Movie

The film begins with Frank Moses and Sarah Ross at Costco. After a lifetime in the CIA, Frank is happy to be retired, although Sarah seems to be itching for action. When Marvin Boggs approaches Frank telling him his life is in danger, Frank blows him off, while Sarah is interested in what he has to say. Marvin gives them one more chance to join him before he drives off... and his car promptly blows up.

Even though Frank isn't convinced Marvin is dead, he still goes to the funeral because Sarah insists. He even tests to see if Marvin is still alive by poking him with a pin. Even so, he gives a touching eulogy for his friend. After the funeral, Frank tells Sarah they have to leave. If whoever is after them could get to Marvin, they could get to them. Unfortunately, not only is he correct, he's too late. Just after the funeral ends, he's brought into Yankee White Facility for interrogation about operation Nightshade. (He tells Sarah to go to their safehouse and stay there.) Frank has no clue what that is. Unfortunately for the people who brought him in, another government agent, Jack Horton, shows up and kills everyone involved in Frank's interrogation. He then threatens to torture Sarah if Frank doesn't given him all the information he wants. Instead, Frank escapes... with some help from Marvin.

Now Frank, Marvin, and Sarah have to escape and figure out what is going on. (Marvin brought Sarah to Yankee White Facility.) Information saying Frank and Marvin were involved with Operation Nightshade popped up on the internet, which is why all this is happening now. Of course, these two have no idea what Operation Nightshade is, so they are at a disadvantage. Marvin did kidnap a Senior Director of Military Intelligence, so they have some information.

Meanwhile, we see Jack Horton with his boss and a general. They are discussing what to do now that Frank's escaped. The general suggests going public and in response, Jack kills him. Instead, they decide to hire Han Cho Bai to kill Frank.

Meanwhile, again, we see activity at MI-6. They learn of Operation Nightshade appearing on the internet, so they contact Victoria Winslow and hire her to kill Frank.

Frank, Marvin, and Sarah learn that Operation Nightshade was a plan to smuggle a nuclear weapon into Moscow piece by piece. The physicist who developed this weapon, Dr. Edward Bradley, was killed in Moscow and Frank was in the security detail at the time. Looking at the leaked documents, they figure out they were leaked by The Frog. So it's off to Paris to get him, in a plane they stole from Han. They don't get very far in Paris when they are intercepted by Katja Petrokovich, who is Russian Counter-Intelligence and has a history with Frank.

This is where we run into serious spoilers.

To cut to the chase, Red 2 doesn't have the energy or the sense of fun that Red had. Relationship problems between Frank Moses and Sarah Ross are given more screen time than Victoria Winslow. You know you've screwed up a sequel when you focus on the worst part of the first movie at the expense of the best part. At least when she and Han get together there's some real excitement. That's not to say the film is truly bad, but it is more mediocre that a high quality action film, and given the quality of the cast, it should have been a really good movie. I did like Anthony Hopkins' performance in the movie, as well as Catherine Zeta-Jones' performance, so all three main newcomers were an asset to the film. On the other hand, I didn't find Frank or Sarah compelling, so it is hard to say if I disliked the performances or the script. John Malkovich was still fun, but perhaps not as manic as in the first movie.

The Extras

The only extras on the DVD are some outtakes and deleted scenes. The total running time is roughly nine minutes. I believe the Blu-ray has a selection of behind-the-scenes featurettes, but since I don't have the Blu-ray I can't comment on them. The Blu-ray costs $5 or 33% more than the DVD, which is a good price considering you get more extras.

The Verdict

There were a lot of disappointing action films that were released over the summer. Red 2 was one of them. It wasn't the worst of the group and there were some fun action scenes and great acting, but it didn't have the sense of fun of the first movie. The DVD has very few extras, so it is worth a rental. The Blu-ray Combo Pack has more extras and it is the better deal if you are interested in buying.

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Filed under: Video Review, RED 2, Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, John Malkovich, Neal McDonough, Helen Mirren, David Thewlis, Catherine Zeta-Jones