Movie Review: 'Red 2' -- 3 stars
Directed by Dean Parisot
Starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins
The stars of "Red 2" have collectively amassed three Oscar wins and multiple nominations, not to mention other accolades. They've appeared in some of the best movies, ranging from "Pulp Fiction" to "The Queen."
This sequel to the hit 2010 comic series adaptation "Red" won't be joining that prestigious company, but it's further proof that the surest way to elevate mediocre, highly commercial material is to cast people like John Malkovich and Helen Mirren to perform it. In their hands -- as well as those of Bruce Willis and others -- a lightweight action comedy with a nonsensical narrative becomes substantial summer entertainment.
The film returns us to the world of retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Willis), who just wants to live a quiet life with girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker). This is impossible, of course, because Interpol is after him. Soon enough, for reasons best left unexplained here, Frank, Sarah and Frank's best buddy Marvin Boggs (Malkovich) are on the run across Europe and Russia, seeking a deadly nuclear device.
You don't fork down the "Red 2" ticket price to be wowed by the story, of course. The sole appeal here is the chance to watch these actors enact a screwball dynamic.
Taking over for Robert Schwentke, director Dean Parisot maintains a consistency of vision. He understands that these movies exist to give us the image of Mirren blasting guns or Malkovich spooning with Willis as they duck away from machine-gun fire. There's plenty of mileage left on both counts.
The director's job is simple: Keep things moving, work with the crew to give the film a slick sheen and make sure the actors can demonstrate their stellar comic timing. Parisot stays out of the way, and the result is one of the most enjoyable sequels in recent memory.