Despite their graying heads and advancing years, the retired CIA agents in Red 2 can still outshoot, outsmart and outlast legions of much younger, armed and highly trained attackers. Based on comic book characters, the movie reunites Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and Victoria Winters (Helen Mirren) after a WikiLeaks report links them to a nuclear bomb hidden somewhere in Russia.
The weapon’s creator, Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) is locked up deep inside a heavily guarded CIA prison. But that doesn’t stop the three spies and Frank’s much younger girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) from waltzing into the facility as easily as they would a Costco. (Wait! At Costco you at least have to show picture ID.)
Victoria and Frank finally make it to Bailey’s inner cell wearing white coats and stethoscopes, but not before they’ve mowed down a dozen or so innocent office staff members and security guards. Supposedly a lifetime of rampant killing has hardened these agents who now prefer a take-no-prisoners approach to obstacles. With Bailey’s help, the foursome manages to steal the concealed bomb right out from under the noses of Frank’s former Russian girlfriend Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and the Kremlin military. Still, they aren’t the only ones interested in retrieving the deadly device.
Guns blaze constantly in this action film with countless bodies piling up by the time the credits roll. However death by shooting isn’t the only method employed by these characters. Strangulation, stabbing, suffocation, grenades and origami (yes, origami) are also used to cut lives short. And punching, kicking, spiders and large wrenches are used to rough up people. Of course all of this mayhem occurs with tongue-in-cheek humor. On one hand this comedic atmosphere lessens the severity of the endless stream of killings. Yet there is something disturbing about laughing at these senseless murders—particularly when Dr. Bailey nonchalantly picks off incapacitated U.S. soldiers who have done nothing wrong other than to fulfill their duty.
Although the characters in this story are apparently too old for on-screen sexual activity, Frank and his girlfriend Sarah canoodle between shootings. And a few couples, including old flames and complete strangers, exchange some pretty passionate kisses.
Aimed at a demographic that will find Willis’ bald head beautiful and Mirren’s gray hair charming, Red 2 may be hard-pressed to lure teens into the theater. And that’s okay. While these actors (and their stunt people) do their best to convince viewers that aging CIA agents can hold their own on the frontlines of crime, most older audience members would do better to sit back and accept this film for what it is—geriatric fantasy.