RED 2

red2 (1)

There are a few movies which reduce the chance of White House Down doing a good job, and among them the one which is the most similar in what happens on the screen, is RED 2, which can take out the take-over movie with its big cast. The closeness in the Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb ratings might also help in creating that big doubt in the minds of the viewers which is affected by Bruce Willis to attract them to this one, and I would say that even without that drag, this holds a clear edge over its only “same genre competitor” around here. You might already know that Red means “Retired Extremely Dangerous”, as a group of retired secret agents try to make an impact when forced out of retirement by several reasons, the most prominent one being them or their best friends being hunted to be shot at sight. While having such a title thrown towards the protagonists, they do the same designation of being extremely dangerous, a favour – they do what they do the best and what they were always expected to do throughout their lives. They react in such a way that the tables are turned on their enemies, and in the process, saves the day. This one will not have Karl Urban as William Cooper and that is a shame. But the entry of Anthony Hopkins, Lee Byung-hun and Catherine Zeta-Jones would add something else.

So we know that “the best never rest”, and once again Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is hunted and prevented from leading a normal life. Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) is still by him as the old best friend who saves Frank after faking his own death. Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) is with them, and after falling for Frank’s adventures, she is now eagerly looking forward to more dangers which could make her feel special. The gorgeous Katya (Catherine Zeta-Jones) getting back to his life, and being mentioned as “Frank’s Kryptonite” makes Sarah jealous and possessive and she herself tries to get into the middle of the action. He is supposed to be hunted, but actually supported by Victoria Winters (Helen Mirren), and is followed by Han Jo-Bae (Lee Byung-hun) who has taken the contract to murder Frank. In their mission, they come across the information about Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) who would be needed in for their objective to be a success, but is currently in a lunatic asylum. Frank would need to bring them all together, and know who is on his side, how can be with him, and who might end up trying to kill him in order to survive the battle, thus creating a complicated situation, nothing that a retired, extremely dangerous man can’t solve again.

Bruce Willis continues with what he has been doing in the best way, and the triangle featuring him, Mary-Louise Parker and Catherine Zeta-Jones makes the funnier scenes of the movie. Jason Statham’s Frank Martin might be proud of this Frank, the older and the funnier one who has got no car to race. This Frank is there beating up people quite a lot, shooting them and bombing a lot of the world around him. Do they get stronger when they get older? Some might wish to ask so, and Die Hard fans would have to wonder if this is the series which might take Bruce Willis away from them in a crisis of retirement. There is no need to be doubtful though, as this is one man who might be retirement-proof in his real life too. Mary-Louise Parker’s character has only gotten funnier in this sequel, and comes up with some of the funniest moments, sometimes with the dialogues, but mostly just with the expressions. Her character makes so many attempts to prove her better than the possible weakness of her man, and by doing the same, she does the stranger things which adds to the fun element.

Catherine Zeta-Jones would have been not that easy to recognize for her earlier fans, of The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, and seems to have qualified for being still extremely dangerous, doesn’t matter if retirement is knocking at the door. A few memories do keep coming back from those days of early movie watching experience in the absence of the big screen. Those were the days, and she was there on the small screen. Despite of the loss of her older self, she still competes with Helen Mirren with the screen presence, but not with the action sequences. Marvin Boggs’ character continues the job John Malkovich did in the first part, but unfortunately there is no pig this time and we miss him saying “Frank, I never thought I’d say this again. I’m getting the pig!” But, the man still carries the movie forward with his funny one-liners and those comic scenes which never look out of place. There might be no occasion that won’t suit him, and if there is any character who can use a spin-off movie, here is one.

Lee Byung-hun remains the Storm Shadow in essence here too, and may be even as the better ninja than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its sequel which was released earlier this year. He remains the character that he has been in that movie and as the assassin, he continues the same. Anthony Hopkins, our own Hannibal Lecter makes a personal impact on this one, not that big as The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal or Red Dragon, but still something that comes as a pleasant, evil surprise of good quality. Being in the lunatic asylum is one of those common things, and here there are more characteristics for him, of qualities strange enough to be another man of surprising variations. In many ways, these two were needed, as the movie is too much inclined to the funny side otherwise, not that they are completely against contributions to the comic side, but there is the need for the twists, thrills and awesome action. This is Expendables with such a huge cast, but in many ways funnier and the comic side being very effective, if not too effective. May be that movie could have been called with something similar to being retired, and extremely dangerous again.

Even as the movie keeps scoring with its action sequences and the funny dialogues, there is that feeling of the imitation of the first movie, and the predictability keeps on getting higher and higher. Even the climax is too predictable for the usual movie watcher’s liking. As our characters are played by those celebrities who are basically more royal than the others, they keep the viewers interested, but this kind of movie needs its own dose of little shocks, and RED 2 does have it, but not that powerful a thing of the royalty’s standard. There is no situation where the audience is supposed to be terrified or feel for the heroes. There are frequent one-liners which clear any doubt in the minds of the viewers, and with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins guiding the gang, and Lee Byung-hun following the path in a majestic manner, there is the reconquest of whatever is lost, and whenever the movie is about to drop down in its level, something new comes up, once in the form of Catherine Zeta-Jones and at another occasion in the form of Anthony Hopkins; the rest is well managed by the one-liners which drops a comic bomb which handles and stabilizes the situation.

RED 2 is stretching its arms towards that weekend box office victory here, but surely on a limited level. The movie edges over White House Down, and can pretend to be competent against Pacific Rim, Despicable Me 2 and Man of Steel as this is the new entrant in the game and the reviews are not completely out yet, and Turbo belongs to an entirely different genre and attracts another type of viewers. There was still hope for more, that is for sure; RED had come up with the right platform of origins which could have been exploited further. At the same time, it had also used up a lot of resources, and the need of this sequel was for creativity, which has successfully arrived partially. But when one is looking for fun, there is hardly any opportunity to care and think more, and RED 2 gives that unlimited fun which is not without the flaws list. If this movie belongs to that genre which is pure entertainment, you are welcome to forgive its flaws. I would say that I have forgiven and forgotten the same and got into that roller coaster ride of entertainment which this movie hides behind its pillars of old age. May be it is time for most of you to give it a try, and the rest can wait for the year has a lot more in store.

Release date: 19th July 2013
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Dean Parisot
Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, David Thewlis, Neal McDonough

red2 copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Die Hard V

hard

We had a hostage situation in 1988 on screen; that was what Die Hard brought with itself – one of my favourite action movies of all time and may be something superior to most of the rest when I first watched it. When they took over the airport in Die Hard 2, this sequel was not something which could have failed, and it didn’t. Actually, there were moments which made this one seem to try and overtake the first. Then came Die Hard 3, which did the exact same thing as Transporter 2 did to The Transporter – it brought the level of magnificence down from the firmament; still distant from being the worst imaginable sequel, for it became a lesser thing only due to the power of the first two movies. It took the series twelve years to come back as Live Free or Die Hard – not a bad return for something which seemed to have disappeared long ago. It was quite certain at that moment that we hadn’t seen the last of the series, and here we have Die Hard 5 a.k.a A Good Day to Die Hard. May be John McClane is forever; like the T-virus. But a virus infection would make another bloody story – and the same is the case with an immortal McClane; therefore, lets keep that away.

John McClane is back; this time in Russia – the man with his own style of facing everything, from near-death situations to almost-life situations. He is the man who is always in the middle of a crisis, whether it is a complicated family problem or an extremely simple shoot-out which might even include helicopters and fighter planes. He is specialized in being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and it might be something hereditary. The one thing that the viewer could be sure about, is that his character is not that far away from a superhero status. He faces his villains with more confidence than the superheroes – one simple thing which has to be kept in the mind before watching Die Hard V. Well, there are not many other heroes of this calibre – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand made me think about intentionally feeling otherwise, but one has to come to the conclusion that McClane belongs to another genre; a similar but another area of interest. Our men of the video games, featured in the movies Hitman and Max Payne, might have a shot in future though.

The scene has shifted to Moscow. The name of the villain is Yuri Komarov – brings to me the memories of Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece Doctor Zhivago with its Yuri Zhivago and Komarovsky. Other than thinking about these two names which strike a similarity with this one name, there is nothing to be mentioned about this movie related to the Nobel prize winning novel and its critically acclaimed movie adaptation by David Lean. No, that was not even a comparison but something which caught my attention. The other villain is named Viktor Chagarin, not a name I am going to identify with some other character of another work. It is in the battle between these two, that the hero’s son Jack McClane is caught. John McClane who has not been in touch with his son for years, makes a visit to Russia to get him out of trouble – or in his words, he goes on a vacation to Moscow. Jack had ended up in prison, but escapes with Komarov. Even as the father and the son never seems to get along in the beginning, they slowly begins to work together and solve the problems.

The son turns out to be a CIA agent (his father would address him as the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey), and his undercover operation would turn out to be a lesser twist than what Komarov and his daughter Irina would have to offer for them. Fortunately, there is no twist over twist, like that one Bollywood movie, Race 2. Still, to take the story to another level (or to a rather strange idea which could have surely taken a better twist) action would soon shift to Chernobyl, Ukraine; uranium, radio-activity and weapons. There are some twists and betrayals coming close to creating an impact, but most of the time, what saves the movie is its action scenes and the one-liners. There is enough fun and mindless action to keep this running. The McClane family problems would surely be solved in the end. Jack had said that “We’re not a hugging family” before the first half, and one knows that the family is united by the end, and can guess that “the hugging problem” might be solved before a possible Die Hard VI.

Bruce Willis stands strong as John McClane. He has continued with his “everyman” action star who seems to be drifting away a little from that status. One can only remember K’naan’s lines “When I get older I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag” – something which I heard a lot during the 2010 FIFA World Cup run of the Spanish Armada; McClane is just like that, for he has only got stronger with the age. But the doubt might be about his strength and durability which is reaching a new level with experience of old age, something which reminds me of those video games. That takes away that one McClane of the earlier century who was more vulnerable and prone to errors. The age has surely caught up with McClane, but it has had a positive impact on him, both physically and intellectually. Expendables 1 and 2 had similar impact on its characters, and as Bruce Willis played one of them, one has to doubt if that element has stayed as far as Die Hard V.

Yuliya Snigir looked extremely good out there, but should have had a better role to play in this one; as her character couldn’t create that impact which one of the two main antagonists could have come up with. The twists basically revolved around her, and there was mystery surrounding her until the Chernobyl scene, but the character of Irina had to suffer due to the action-centered approach to the movie. Actually, one has to wonder what has been there for the character in the movie- a typical one-dimensional character, a title for which even John McClane might be suitable someday. There is nothing wrong in the performances, but there is that absence of three-dimensional character elements throughout the movie. Even among these confusions, the best part of the movie was undoubtedly the car chase scene, and it powers the experience from the beginning. The end-action might be a little overdose, but still not unsuitable for the style of the movie. The support of good special effects make even the ordinary action scenes worth a watch.

We surely miss that skyscraper; also that airport. But still, Die Hard series would stay alive. When John McClane says that he is on vacation, it is a fact. This is a vacation which is slightly below the quality of the other movies of the series. But still, there are gun-shots everywhere, and high-speed car chases end up in heavy destruction of property, and even the flying machines join the action. So, in simple words, this is his vacation. If that means that there is even better to expect when he is out of vacation, that would be quite a treat. Die Hard IV was an improvement from Die Hard III and therefore, there is no shortage of expectations which can be put on the shoulders of this series. Even if one might have the tendency to call it a dumb action movie, I would say that it is just because it belongs to that genre and it has performed its duty. There was Expendables 1 and 2 along with many others which could have deserved that title in an even better way. Come back, Die Hard; come back stronger.

Release date: 13th February 2013 (USA); 22nd February 2013 (India)
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Yuliya Snigir, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvić, Cole Hauser

diehard5 copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.