The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Red 2 | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Red 2

The "Retired and Extremely Dangerous" geriatrics return for this sequel.

Directed by: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Byung-hun Lee, Neal McDonough, Brian Cox, David Thewlis

After the events of 2010's 'Red', retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Willis) is attempting to lead a normal life with his girlfriend, Sarah (Parker), when a paranoid Marvin Boggs approaches him, warning that people are after them. After an attempt on Frank's life by a team of mercenaries lead by Jack Horton (McDonough), the three go on the run. Assigned to assassinate Frank is MI6 agent Victoria Winters (Mirren) and the world's deadliest hitman Han Jo-bae (Lee).
In recent years, Hollywood finally discovered that a market exists for their product outside of young American males. The success of 'Twilight' has resulted in a plethora of romantic fantasy movies specifically aimed at teenage girls. Films like 'The King's Speech' and 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' have seen an older audience demographic targeted. With the international cinema market now considered more important than its domestic American counterpart, big Hollywood films are now increasingly more likely to take place in cities like London, Hong Kong and Moscow than New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. (This summer it seems like every second release has a set-piece in London.)
Attempting to encompass as culturally wide an audience as possible would seem like a commendable idea but Hollywood seems stuck in the thirties when it comes to portrayals of "foreigners". We're seeing a lot more movies set in foreign locales yet Anglo-Saxon actors are still portraying those from other cultures. Here, a Frenchman (known as "The Frog", sigh), is played by the very English actor David Thewlis, whose French accent is about as authentic as Patrick Stewart's in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'. Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and Scottish thesp Brian Cox portray Russians, the former not even attempting an accent, the latter butchering one. When it comes to casting, Hollywood seems to think the rest of the world only consists of the U.K.
The globetrotting antics of 'Red 2' feel shoehorned in purely to try and appeal to a global audience but what the producers should realize is that viewers might enjoy seeing their city on screen (I confess to enjoying seeing the Dublin streets I traverse on a daily basis in Soderbergh's 'Haywire', despite how awful the film was) but they won't appreciate having their culture repeatedly mocked and stereotyped in a series of performances which amount to a form of cultural minstrelism.
The traditional model has been to tailor the marketing of a film to its content but lately that's being reversed and 'Red 2' is the worst example I've witnessed so far. The entire film seems like it was built around a series of bullet points suggested by a market research firm; get some old folks in the door, entice those foreign folks with a multitude of locations, and sell as many products on the sly as possible so the movie can be flop proof. On the latter point, 'Red 2' takes product placement to new levels. A scene based in a popular Pizza chain was so shameless the film may as well have just cut to a commercial break.
With every set-piece coming off like a poor rip-off of better sequences seen in recent movies, a quality cast who seem utterly disinterested (Parker aside, who gives it her all, bless her) and plotholes that the screenwriters don't even attempt to explain, two films in it seems time to Retire this Extremely Dire franchise.

Eric Hillis