You'd hope that, emboldened by the success of its predecessor, Red 2 would come out swinging.
Instead, it opens with a shot of a Costco sign, rubbing our faces in the fact this isn’t the product of creative vision but rather a proven seller intended to pad some coffers.
Inside the retail monolith, we find Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), still retired from the CIA but hardly looking extremely dangerous. Content playing house with girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), he’s oblivious to her restlessness.
Fortunately for Sarah, conspiracy nut Marvin (John Malkovich) arrives on the placid scene and kicks the story into motion by kicking the bucket (albeit only temporarily).
The film maintains a particularly leisurely pace as our globe-strolling heroes hunt down a weapon of mass destruction with various rogues – including Helen Mirren reprising her role as the regal assassin Victoria – in lukewarm pursuit.
This relaxed approach initially serves Red 2 well, allowing Willis and Malkovich to rehash their effective hard-ass/hammy chemistry and director Dean Parisot ( Galaxy Quest ) to show that he can still hold his own when it comes to light laughs.
It’s the more over-the-top sequences of this action-comedy that find him out of his depth. Returning screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber have penned a surplus of minor melees and major set-pieces.
Alas, Parisot bungles most of them, bringing neither visceral thrills or visual coherence to the action. The climax looks like a stray grenade went off in the editing suite before an unmotivated intern pieced the final cut back together as best they could.
While trying to follow the numerous underdeveloped plot points and make sense of the muddled shoot-outs, you’ll be forgiven for feeling like you’re losing your marbles.
Fortunately, you’ll likely have forgotten the whole misadventure by the time the house lights come up.
Nevertheless, Bruce and company thank you for your business.