As the film opens, we see that Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) and Frank (Bruce Willis) are not exactly settling into a life of domestic bliss. She wand more of the adventure, danger, and romance she got when meeting retired spy Frank, while Frank is hoping to go back to the quiet life he had before. Sarah gets her wish when Frank and Marvin are “outed” by Wikileaks has having taken part in an ultra-secret Cold War-era operation that neither of them recalls having been involved with. However, that doesn’t mean that major US, British, and Russian spy agencies don’t want to know whatever it is Frank might know, and are willing to go to any lengths to find it out.
They face a formidable array of opponents: Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) represents the USA, an agent who claims to admire Frank, but makes up for his lack of finesse by sheer brutality; Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones) a former sparring-(and perhaps bed-) partner of Frank’s, now a General in the Russian FSB; and Han (Byung-Hun Lee) a former Korean agent turned assassin who has a strong incentive to terminate Frank with extreme prejudice. Initially, even English assassin Victoria (Helen Mirren) is tasked by British Intelligence to “get” Frank and Marvin.
John Malkovich’s Marvin has mellowed out from the last movie’s twitchy paranoid to a more grounded Zen Master of Covert Operations, and part of the humor is how his often whacked-out actions keep the group surviving to the points where Frank’s expertise at sheer low-down dirty work has to kick in. A case in point: Marvin and Sarah join a Parisian car-chase driving a Deux Chevaux, a famously tiny, tinny, and underpowered compact car, and manage to outmaneuver the high-tech super Porsche driven by Han.
When we get right down to the MacGuffin, things get pretty improbable, but by that time the ride’s been enough fun that you don’t care.
Although not quite the tender love story the first RED was, we do get to see more character development in this movie, with one of the best running gags being the relationship advice Frank keeps being given by everyone, including his opponents. Sarah’s jealousy of Katya is another, and it was nice to see a continuation of the Morticia/Gomez romance between Victoria and Ivan (Brian Cox). Ivan (reclining under a tree as Victoria takes aim at a target with her sniper rifle): “I love the way your toes curl, just before you fire.” –expressing the opposite-of-people esthetic of the spies—to love murder and deception, which “normal people” should abhor.
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