Teaming up with his old comrades Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren), and girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), Frank travels the globe to unravel the mystery of Nightshade and find out who wants him dead.
This is a very slick, action movie sequel, punctuated by frenetic car chases, stylish hand-to-hand combat and things being blown to hell. Fans of 2010’s Red will enjoy seeing the first film turned up one louder. Anyone coming to the franchise for the first time, however, might find themselves confused as to what this movie is trying to be.
There’s international intrigue and some considerably violent takedowns – particularly in the first twenty or so minutes – but the romance story at its centre is jarring. It is a gallant, but ultimately ineffective, effort by director Dean Parisot to weave emotional depth into what is otherwise a two-dimensional film.
Malkovich and Willis provide almost-all the laughs with their banter, while Mirren is clearly having a ball from the minute she pours acid on a corpse in her evening dress. There’s an obvious camaraderie between the cast members coming back for round two, but there is no real acting effort put in by or required from anyone.
Parker and Willis are supposed to be cute together, but the former’s irritatingly childlike, vacant-eyed acting makes their relationship overly-dependant and borderline creepy. Zeta-Jones is a welcome addition to the cast as Russian femme-fatale Katja, but her badassery is negated by her bickering with a jealous Sarah. Perhaps “bickering with” is the wrong turn of phrase – the two female characters hardly converse. At one point they are even sat on the same sofa talking over each other to the other (male) characters.
Get rid of the waffle (Sarah) and you are left with a solid comedy-action flick that bests the abysmal A Good Day To Die Hard and makes for decent Friday night/Saturday night entertainment.
Released in UK cinemas on Friday 2 August 2013.
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