'Red 2' is every bit as good as the first
If you loved the original, you'll love this sequel.
Even though small screen Director Dean Parisot ("Monk," "Northern Exposure," "Galaxy Quest") has replaced Robert Schwentke, the original writing team of Jon and Erich Hoeber come back for a second bite of the (Red) apple.
The continuity of the graphic novel spy series is also guaranteed with the return of major players Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker.
Bruce Willis ("Die Hard" movies, "Looper," "Moonlighting") maintains his "Die Hard as Spy" mode as Frank Moser, retired CIA spook, and Malkovich ("Con Air," "Of Men and Mice," "Rounders") provides all of the comic relief once again as the extremely paranoid Marvin.
Helen Mirren ("The Queen," "Arthur," "Elizabeth I") returns as Victoria, the Good Guy femme fatale set against the equally deadly KGB Officer Kayja, played very sexily by Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Chicago," "Entrapment," "The Mask of Zorro").
Mary-Louise Parker ("Fried Green Tomatoes," "Weeds," "West Wing") is now married to Moser, and has rose colored adventure glasses on, encouraging the husband (with plenty of help from Marvin) to once again jump into the spy business.
New comer Byung-hun Lee ("G.I. Joe" movies, "I Saw the Devil," "Masquerade") plays Han Cho Bai, Korean Assassin and has fun with the role, even though he maintains his stoic demeanor throughout most of the film.
Second-tier performances are well done by veteran Anthony Hopkins ("Silence of the Lambs" movies, "Hitchcock," "Fracture") as Bailey, the proverbial "mad scientist" and by character actor Neal McDonough ("Band of Brothers," "Justified," "Desperate Housewives") as bad guy Jack Horton.
The plot for this installment involves a nuclear bomb, the Kremlin, a last-minute betrayal, an old flame possibly rekindled and mucho, mucho fast-paced violence (but in a fun way).
No gory blood and guts, just friendly shootouts between adversaries, and cold-blooded killings of residual soldiers. The stuff that action movies are made of.
The real star (besides Willis and Malkovich) may just be the writing, because this could be a movie starring various other matinee idols; it just so happens to feature Bruce.
At its core, it is just another adventure with basically the same cast of characters, almost a serialized version of the graphic novel from which it sprang.
And that's okay, because as long as this series remains as fresh and entertaining as this second installment, I'll plunk down eight bucks for as many episodes as they can roll out.
Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.