Review: Red 2

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Red 2 posterThe grouping together of a cast of great actors like Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and even Mary-Louise Parker would seem like a sure-fire way to generate a hit movie. In 2010, that was the case with Red. Based on a graphic novel from DC Comics, the action movie put some older actors in a position to do some pretty heroic and badass things.

With the moderate success of that film, plus its star power, obviously a sequel had to happen. But did it, really? Red 2 places a lot of faith in you the viewer being a huge fan of the original, and doesn't deliver on much else. If you are a fan of Red, though, this might just be an enjoyable trip to the movies for you this weekend.

In Red 2, we're catching up with Frank (Willis) and Sarah (Parker), who are in a relationship rut since there doesn't appear to be anyone trying to kill them anymore. That safety won't last long, though, when Marvin (Malkovich) tries to get Frank to come along with him to kill the people who are now trying to kill them both over a botched mission from the late '70s when they worked for the CIA.

Multiple governments are out to kill Frank, Sarah, and Marvin, and the U.S. even hires the world's most dangerous assassin, Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee). Han Cho Bai still harbors a lot of anger towards Frank over being double-crossed long ago. The old gang's journey to clear their names -- and save the world in the process, of course -- takes them to many places and they cross paths with a lot of interesting people along the way.

What Red 2 does incredibly well is film action and fighting scenes. They're some of the best you'll see all year, especially seeing Byung-hun Lee do his thing. He should be a much bigger star in the United States than he is. Thankfully, he's a big star in Korea and he is in some truly fantastic movies there. No one else in the cast seems to be mailing it in, which is reassuring because for a sequel like that, it's almost expected that a lack of effort would be evident on screen.

What's frustrating about Red 2 is that it isn't a bad movie. Far from it, actually. But it's just so bland and inconsequential that it feels as though a sequel wasn't needed at all. It's not good enough to create the kind of word-of-mouth buzz that will sustain a good box-office run. Despite the effort by the cast, it still feels like something no one put much of an effort into creating.

All of that aside, for this weekend at least, Red 2 is the best new movie out this week. It's got star power, explosions, comedy and awesome fight scenes. It's a summer movie at its core, but not much more than that.