There was a playfulness to the 2010 action film “RED,” directed by Robert Schwentke, that elevated it above the standard action film offering.
Director Dean Parisot fails to find that level with “RED 2.” It’s still a fun action movie, but all of the aging buddy elements that made the original film such a surprise hit have been replaced with standard fight and flight sequences. Plus, the camaraderie that made the first movie so much fun has given way to a disjointed mix of characters.
The sequel starts with a similar premise: Kill Frank Moses. This time, he and killing buddy Marvin — played with great zeal by John Malkovich — have been linked to a super weapon created more than three decades ago. The search for the WMD and its maker (Anthony Hopkins) takes Frank, Marvin and Frank’s true love, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), on a jaunt around the globe.
They’re joined on their quest by the sharp-shooting Victoria (Helen Mirren) and martial arts master Han (Byung-hun Lee). All they have to do is break into several high security areas — including the Kremlin — to save the day.
Both “RED” movies are perfect fits for Willis, who gets to exhibit his macho side. While the sequel doesn’t have as much humor, there are moments where Willis shows off his deadpan comedy.
His controlled approach is a sharp contrast to the goofy performance by Parker, whose character goes from liability to superspy in a very short time. Most of the time, Parker plays the role like a kindergarten student on a sugar high.
The strength of “RED” was how the team of mature spies and agents showed that time had not diminished their skills. Having only Willis and Malkovich together the majority of the time isn’t quite the same.