The tone is clear from the outset, when Marvin (John Malkovich) catches up with his buddy Frank (Bruce Willis) in a hypermarket and says, ‘you haven’t killed anybody in ages’.
They soon make up for that little oversight and it is a laugh a minute (not) as the body count soars. The episode on the plane, where Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) accounts for a bunch of blokes with poisonous gas, is especially mirthful when aligned with the jollity of events in Syria.
Of course, the movie is not meant to be taken seriously. It is intended to be light-hearted and spoofish – ‘harmless escapism’ as the PR guys explain. But you should add to that that it’s dead boring, too, so clichéd and tired in its club-footed plotting that you can only be depressed at the prevailing assumption by the major studios that its mainstream audience is composed entirely of nincompoops.
Frank and Marvin are retired fogeys who once tooled around the world’s trouble spots doing nefarious stuff for the CIA. Bailey is a mad scientist who, during the Cold War, had devised some sort of nuclear device (or do we all say nucular now?) that remains hidden – but where? Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee) is a famous, ruthless assassin and he has been hired to eliminate Frank.
Victoria (Helen Mirren, making a fool of herself) is an MI6 big-wig. Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones, looking a bit long in the tooth) is an ex-lover of Frank’s and Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker doing Sally Field as Gidget with a gun) is his current squeeze.
There is a lot of shooting and chasing – in one rather sad scene, the Bruiser takes it upon himself to do the running instead of his stunt double and, though it only lasts a few seconds, he shows all the elegance and athleticism of Cliffy Young – and tedious Marvel-type illustrations inserted as the globe-trotting gang flit from one location to the next.
The first Red did nothing for me and this one is even less memorable.