RED 2 is coming to theaters July 19, 2013, and we’ve previewed it earlier here at borg.com. If you missed the original in the theaters you’re not alone. The marketing for RED didn’t do much to help–advertised as retired assassins getting back together, the appeal was hard to grasp. Yet if it had been revealed as a dream cast spy caper in the realm of the Ocean’s Eleven series, it might have drawn a wider audience. Whatever the box office take on the original, it doesn’t matter as a sequel will be soon here, and it’s a good time to go back to the original available everywhere on video and even on basic cable programming. If you do, you’ll find a fun flick that will likely cause you to look forward to RED 2 come July.
The other reason for checking out RED is because it was based on the graphic novel written by Warren Ellis with art by Cully Hamner. But note that the movie is little like the original, mainly because there was not enough content in the sourcework for a full-length feature film. RED is a bit like Space Cowboys but with a lot more energy and action.
If you were able to catch RED, what you’d find was a great spy romp injected with good humor and a lot of fun. The cast of Retired Extremely Dangerous spies is key. Bruce Willis is a retired CIA agent named Frank Moses, now pulling a pension from the government. He has nothing in his life except the monthly call to a woman named Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) at the help desk where he pretends not to have received his check only to have another conversation with her. As he makes plans to finally meet her, a group of spies are turning up dead and an attempt is made on Frank. This throws Frank and Sarah into a run from the government, headed up by young agent William Cooper, played by Karl Urban in yet another brilliant performance. Urban, star of Judge Dredd, the current Dr. “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek, and Eomer in The Lord of the Rings–shows as an actor he can hold his own against Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich. And Urban proves yet again what a good agent he must have.
Malkovich, Freeman, and Mirren re-form what feels like a reunion of the A-Team TV series. Malkovich plays a great sociopath in the nature of a mature Dwight Schultz’s “Screaming Mad” Murdock from the series, with Freeman as the wise old Hannibal of the team who ends up a bit like Kenny from South Park. It didn’t get past us that Malkovich played a similar yet different crazy assassin in a completely opposite film, Clint Eastwood’s In the Line of Fire. Mirren, and her Russian spy ex-lover Ivan (Brian Cox, Braveheart, Rob Roy, Doctor Who, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Zodiac, The Ring, X2, The Bourne Identity) could hardly be better, bringing a bit of a The Spy Who Loved Me meets the BBC’s Zen element to the movie. In fact you could watch Mirren all day as she manages to use every variety of weapon against the government and non-government bad guys on the retirees’ trail.
But the dream cast doesn’t end there, with Richard Dreyfuss as Alexander Dunning, a villainous mix of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, and genre actor Julian McMahon (Fantastic Four, Charmed) as Vice President Stanton.
If that’s not enough, Ernest Borgnine (Gattaca, Escape from New York, The Poseidon Adventure, The Dirty Dozen, From Here to Eternity, McHale’s Navy, Captain Video) even shows up in a small role throughout the film.
Look for plenty of twists, surprises, good acting and good writing from the adapted screenplay writer/brother team Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber (Whiteout, Battleship). It will make you want to see RED 2 in the theater and wonder why you missed the original.