A few years ago I’d heard about a movie called Red. It starred Bruce Willis (among others) but since Bruce Willis is in every movie ever made, I didn’t see the immediate appeal. Flash forward a few years and I’d heard of a sequel, aptly-titled Red 2, so I figured that I’d break out my copy of the original and give it a viewing. I loved it! It’s so nice to see John Malkovich embrace the true psycho that we all know he can be! Remember In the Line of Fire? How about Con-Air? Malkovich is one of those actors that even when he’s playing it serious, you don’t really know what to expect. So after having viewed Red, I was anxiously awaiting the sequel. It showed up in theaters to luke-warm reviews and now it’s arrived on Blu-ray. Before I delve into the plot, I’ll say that I remember a line from the movie Scream in which the two lead actors discuss the rules of a sequel, all the necessary requirements and what it takes to truly make a trilogy. It’s not by happenstance that I mention this.
Red 2 (“Retired Extremely Dangerous”, by the way) follows the rules of a sequel nearly to a tee. The special effects are bigger and louder, the cast is more expansive and diverse and the comedic elements that made the original so fun to watch are heightened to the nth degree. Having said that we’re presented with Red 2. Frank (Bruce Willis) is trying to enjoy his retired life with new girlfriend, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) but it’s just not meant to be. When Marvin (John Malkovich) re-enters the scene, trouble is bound to follow and follow it does. It turns out that Marvin’s car blows up, he’s presumed dead (we all know he’s not) and Frank is whisked away and summarily interrogated about a mysterious project called “Nightshade.” This brings Frank (and now Sarah) across the pond to search for whatever it is that Nightshade is, and it gives the movie a chance to introduce a few new faces to the cast. We meet Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), The Frog (David Thewlis) and a wonderfully batty Bailey (Sir Anthony Hopkins). Oh and suffice it to say that Frank is being tallied by master assassin Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee). There are car chases galore, plenty of guns and rockets fired and more hand to hand combat than you can shake a stick at. If you ever wanted more over-indulgence found in Red, you’ll get your wish with Red 2.
I know it might seem that I didn’t really like Red 2, but it was pretty fun to watch. I enjoyed the first one so much more, mainly because it was fresh and fun. A lot of that zest has disappeared here, but thankfully the chemistry between Malkovich and Willis is still there. And what’s with Catherine Zeta-Jones still trying to play the sex kitten role? Ok, a dozen years ago – I bought it but now…she’s getting a tad long in the tooth for roles like this. I mean, she still looks good, but there are fresher faces out there. Red 2 provides more of everything. Everything that made the first one memorable is present in the second one except Ernest Borgnine, who reportedly wanted in the sequel, but sadly passed away a few months before shooting began. If you want to be entertained then this will do the job and if you check your mind at the door, want to turn up your home theater system and let the speakers do their thing – this’ll work for that as well. But in no way does this capture the spirit of the original. Then again, few do.
Video: How’s it look?
Ok folks, you know the drill. A big budget Hollywood movie that’s new to Blu-ray from a major studio. Yep, Red 2 looks just as good as it sounds (well, technically it sounds just a bit better than it looks but you get the idea). The 2.40: 1 AVC HD image is stunning to look at and it so gracefully shows us that the stars in the movie are getting older and older. Hey, it happens to us all. Detail is amazing, colors are rich and vibrant and I really saw nothing I’d even think to complain about. Yes it’s that good. I think a few of the action scenes looked a tad bit jumpy, so that prohibits a perfect score, but the movie delivers on every technical level.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Sound? You want some good sound? Red 2 delivers the goods with a very active DTS HD Master Audio mix that really starts off in the opening scene and doesn’t let up until the closing credits. Ok, that’s stretching it a bit. Vocals are rich and crisp, Willis’ usual whispery and gravel-like voice is personified by the robust mix. Likewise Anthony Hopkins’ calming tone sounds just as delicate as if he were in the same room with you. Surrounds are used in just about every second of every scene, the LFE are active as well. C’mon folks – things blow UP! As much as I was complaining about the over-indulgence of the car chases and bullets whizzing by, I have to admit that they sound pretty damn good in my living room. A top notch effort!
Supplements: What are the extras?
There’s not a whole lot to offer in the supplemental department, but what’s there might be worth checking out…once.
The Red 2 Experience – A series of short featurettes which gives us a bit of insight into some of the stunt work, the cast dotes on one another and the arsenal of weapons used in the sequel.