Susan Granger's review of 'RED 2'
"RED" is an acronym for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous," a designation that aptly suits the former secret agents/trained assassins who are reunited after the surprising success of their 2010 caper.
While pushing a shopping cart at Costco, Frank's alerted by his wacky cohort Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) that they're being targeted to retrieve a long-lost Cold War-era nuclear device called Nightshade, hidden somewhere in
the world. That's confirmed by a phone call from sharpshooting MI6 Victoria (Helen Mirren), who's been assigned to
kill them, and reinforced by the appearance of a dangerous Korean hit man named Han (martial arts expert Byung-hun Lee, familiar from "G.I. Joe"). So they're off to find Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), the deviously deranged scientist who designed the deadly weapon of mass destruction; he's been incarcerated by the Brits in a locked ward for the criminally insane for the past 32 years.
Joining them is sultry Catherine Zeta-Jones as Katja, a seductive Russian spy, along with Brian Cox as amorous Ivan, Victoria's Kremlin suitor. A Frenchman (David Thewlis) known as the Frog briefly diverts them, while CIA bad guy Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) constantly menaces.
Based on DC Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, it's a thinly plotted thriller by screenwriting brothers Jon and Erich Hoeber and directed by Dean Parisot, who helmed the hilariously satirical "Galaxy Quest" back in 1999. Humor takes precedence over logic, as the intrepid senior spies dash from one escapade to another. While it's hard to take your eyes off scene-stealing Mirren, Parker shows surprising comedic timing, seething with jealousy when Frank is dazzled by Katja, whom Marvin describes as "Frank's Kryptonite."
The amusingly droll relationship banter between protective Willis, paranoid Malkovich and adventurous Parker propels the pace.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "RED 2" is a sly, savvy 7, a classy, globe-trotting action comedy for baby-boomers.