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07/19/2013 08:49 am ET | Updated Sep 18, 2013

Movie Review: Red 2 - 2 Little, 2 Late

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One of those movies that worked much better than it deserved to, 2010's Red offered action that was smart, funny and well-cast enough to make you forget just how ordinary it really was.

Unfortunately, its sequel, Red 2 is a movie of a very different and unwelcome type: the kind where all the best jokes are in the trailer. It's as thoroughly unnecessary a movie as anything out there, with the possible exception of The Lone Ranger.

(Apropos of nothing, here's one of those chicken/egg quandaries: Which is more unnecessary: a sequel or a remake? They're often the same thing.)

Lacking the element of surprise that the first film had, this sequel hammers all the things that were handled with such a light touch in the original. Using Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman to deliver one-liners the first time gave each a chance to do something unexpected. But this overly busy, undercooked follow-up simply takes what was funniest in Red and then doubles down.

One of the delights of the first film was that it gave John Malkovich a chance to play goofy, quirky comedy. But he was part of an ensemble, not the main comic engine of the film. Here, however, his eccentric Marvin Boggs must unholster some weak bit of contrived eccentricity with every entrance - and that's not to mention a state fair midway's collection of funny hats.


This review continues on my website.

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