Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: Red 2

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John Malkovich in a scene from Red 2.
John Malkovich in a scene from Red 2.

There's nothing cutting edge about Red 2, the action-packed follow-up to the 2010 action comedy romp about retired spies going rogue. The plot is familiar and just as unbelievable, but in the hands of these seasoned veterans it's hard to resist. The best thing is nobody takes themselves too seriously and if anything the sequel is a shade funnier than its predecessor.

Much the same group of retired secret service agents, excluding Morgan Freeman, are back. Frank (Willis) and girlfriend Sarah (Parker) are trying to live a normal life in suburbia until Frank's involvement in Project Nightshade many years before comes back to haunt him. Unbeknownst to Frank, the scientist he was protecting at the time (Hopkins) had built a new-generation nuclear weapon and hidden it, and suddenly decades later everyone wants it.

As they battle government officials, terrorists and madmen - all looking for the stolen weapon - Frank and his team travel from America to Paris, London and Moscow. Anyone who gets in their way is expendable and the body count is immense, and irrelevant - streets, cities even, are torn to pieces with bullets, car chases and bomb blasts.

Yes, Red 2 is like a classier, funnier and more sarcastic version of The Expendables.

Malkovich (pictured) is delightful as the paranoid Marvin, and Mirren plays Victoria, who joins the team after being hired to assassinate Frank. The action is also juxtaposed with a dose of supportive relationship advice Marvin and Victoria give to Sarah, all sparked by the presence of one of Frank's former lovers, a Russian agent played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Those who prefer Helen Mirren with a tiara rather than a rifle will find Red 2 a trifle silly. And they'd be right. But Red 2 is infectious good fun, well acted and wonderfully exaggerated escapism.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren
Director: Dean Parisot
Running time: 116 mins
Rating: M (violence and offensive language)
Verdict: Well acted, over-the-top escapism.

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