Thursday, July 18, 2013
When I saw RED in the cinema I liked it, when I watched it again on Blu-Ray I LOVED it. The humour was fresh, the action was great, the story was surprising, there was energy, great performances and some genuine punch-the-air and cheer moments. Like the lighter, comic-book, family version of The Expendables. I will never get tired of old folks beating people up. It's just better, funnier and cooler.
Now here comes the inevitable sequel and, truth be told, it's not bad. If you enjoyed the first one then you will not be disappointed by the second one. The script is ok, the performances pretty good and the action enjoyable.
For some reason and I can't quite put my finger on why, although the pacing and globe-trotting may be a factor, it doesn't quite have the zing, pop, crash, bang, cheer factor of the first. The action, while executed well and while there's plenty of it, has the little annoying twinge of 'you've seen this stuff already quite recently' and 'oh look, they've walked on to a sound stage, here comes another big set piece' and it has a little annoying script trait where characters we know and see being cleverer than the other guy are easily duped when the script requires it, even though the audience see it coming. These are, however, just small complaints as neither hugely detracts from the enjoyment of the film. One thing that seemed a little forced was the rather heavy handed jokes, nods and winks concerning Willis and Parker's ongoing relationship struggles but I suppose the screenwriter thought it would give everyone something to do apart from just shooting everything. Lastly, it's a tad, needlessly, over long and suffers from World War Z lack-of-blood syndrome, despite plenty of dead bodies piling up.
There are still some great, explosive action and fight scenes though and, despite the bloodless quality, it's plenty violent. On the plus side, too, the director doesn't wave or shake or flail the camera around during the action like a mental having a spasm, so you can actually see what's going on. A breath of fresh air after some spectacularly badly filmed sequences in a certain Summer blockbuster about a flying alien with a cape and little maroon booties. In fact, despite some of the, maybe overly critical, down points I listed above, the more I think about the film, the more I remember bits in it that seriously kicked ass and there was certainly one or two moments where fists were pumped and appreciative laughter happened.
Willis returns to the role of Frank Moses well and has a particularly fun scene in a records room at the beginning, Mary Louise Parker is charmingly ditsy although her make-up makes her look weird and plastic-surgeryesque from time to time, Zeta-Jones is a little surplus to requirements, Anthony Hopkins leaves little scenery unchewed, Byung-hun Lee plays the Jet Li in Lethal Weapon 4 role but does it well, I could watch Helen Mirren fire a gun from noon to night every day for a year and never get bored and Malkovitch (and his outfits) steal the show.
The film has a little bit of an Oceans 11/12/13 vibe, in the sense that you get the feeling the cast are having a better time on set than actually translates on screen but, overall, I would definitely recommend it. It's not going to change any lives but I'd happily check out a third if the box office so demands it, after all it's by far the best DC Comics movie we've had since RED (the first film). Here's hoping, like the first, it gets even better with repeat viewings.
- The Kick Ass Kid