They bicker, emotionally blackmail each other, kiss and make up. Because they have history.
But Bruce Willis and John Malkovich arent the real couple at the heart of RED 2, the action comedy sequel about retired government assassins. Theyre just part of a love triangle, one that Mary Louise Parker completes. Her character Sarah may be Franks (Willis) dizzy but decreasingly naive lady love, but Marvin (Malkovich) is the one who gullibly fills her in on this bloody if exciting life theyve led and somehow continue to lead. And hes the one who gives her guns.
Frank is incredulous. But as the bullets fly and the plot thickens, once mild-mannered Sarah gets into the spirit of things entirely too quickly.
Lets face it, Columbo, she purrs at him. Things were getting a little stale.
The joy of RED was seeing a cast packed with Oscar winners (Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine) and very good actors (Malkovich, Parker, Brian Cox and Karl Urban) flesh out and class up a Bruce Willis action film. Codgers make the coolest killers was its motto.
And if anything, this Retired, Extremely Dangerous sequel ups the ante.
Its a movie of hilarious reaction shots and scores and more scores of jokes. Malkovich is a laugh riot -- watch how he pizza-schools a Russian whose Moscow Papa Johns they take over while breaking into the Kremlin. Moments after an epic brawl ends, Byung-hun Lees Han-the-Hitmanlimps away, and for effect gives a vigorous shake of the leg that early in the fight we saw take a vicious whack from a fire extinguisher.
The car chases are played for exciting laughs. Sarah dives into an ancient French Citroen deux chevaux and shouts, Ive SO got this! even when she SO doesnt. And the fights are both credible and, in the case of the skilled Mr. Lee, INcredible.
Its all ground weve sort of covered before and things do tend to drag before the too-violent third act turns too-bloody.
But Red 2 goes down easily, from Malkovichs demented moments of relationship advice to Dame Helens tender and amusing Hitchcock reunion with Sir Anthony. Theres a knowing twinkle in their eyes, and in everybody elses.
Yeah, we couldve done a Bond film, they seem to wink. And it wouldve been a bloody fun one, at that.
2.5 stars (Grade: C-plus)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee, David Thewlis
Directed by Dean Parisot. A Summit release
Running time: 1:48
MPAA rating: PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.