Red 2

The idea of great, aging actors running around, dropping their elegant theatrical gravitas, and letting their hair down to play goofy action heroes was an inspired one that produced plenty of humor and charm in Reds. Though the concept doesn’t work quite as well the second time around, it still offers a lot of fun. Red 2, from Dean Parisot, director of Galaxy Quest, follows retired black ops agents led by Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) who get together to save the world from a rogue nuclear bomb that went missing in Soviet Russia 30-odd years ago and Frank’s relationship with his girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker). First they must find the weapon’s creator (Anthony Hopkins) while fighting off hired assassins, Homeland Security, and the Russians, who are all out to stop them and get the weapon for themselves.

In the bright, sharp, widescreen picture, contrast is excellent with both henchmen and heroes all dressing in the deepest black suits and outfits. The cliffs of Dover and Willis’ shirts are bright white, and there’s a broad range of shades set off with splashes of rich color like Catherine Zeta-Jones’ wine beret and the rich scarlet comic-book frames used to segue between sequences. Skintones are very natural and well variegated. Plentiful detail reveals the grilles in microphones, stubble on Willis’ face, and a tactile texture to fabrics. 7.1-channel soundtrack is clear, open, and full, with a wide dynamic range. There are nicely booming explosions with pieces of car wreckage rattling by into the surround channels with debris seemingly raining down upon you. Small-arms fire snaps and ricochets satisfyingly, a Gatling gun roars out bullets bassily, while in the higher registers, glass and shells tinkle clearly. And in the big shootout at the end, pistols blast like cannons. Electric piano and electronica music floats around you from all sides, filling the soundfield, but, though notes occasionally bounce across the room, instruments are not all that well separated.

Extras are very limited and slapdash. The main one—a 35-minute featurette focusing on the cast, stunts, and weapons—is a half-hearted, self-congratulatory talking-heads piece illustrated with obvious clips from the film, and it doesn’t offer much at all. Four minutes of not-missing-much deleted scenes and a four-minute gag (in both senses) reel are equally unrewarding. This entertaining, well-made, big action movie—and its stars—deserve better. The fine audio and video transfers do, too.

Studio: Lionsgate, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Length: 116 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Hellen Mirren