Review: Willis and Co. are still retired and still dangerous in ‘Red 2’

2013-07-26-Red-2-movie-posterBy MARK VIOLA / Staff writer

Made on a modest $58 million budget, the Robert Schwentke-directed “Red” went on to earn $199 million worldwide, paving the way for a sequel.

So now we get “Red 2,” with Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”) taking over as director. Writers Jon and Erich Hoeber have returned along with most of the cast.

While much of the enjoyment of “Red” came from watching normally stoic actors such as Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren hoisting machine guns and going to town in full action-movie glory, you can only surprise audiences once. Fortunately, the Hoebers along with Parisot don’t rest on what worked before, elevating the action and the stakes while bringing the same level of humor that made the first movie work so well. “Red 2” does have a slightly different feel, and the action sequences outside of the comedy are more intense than in the first one and frankly, more serious.

“Red 2” isn’t high art, but it delivers on the promise made by the original, featuring action, comedy and Academy Award-winning actors with heavy artillery. The different tone, which feels much more serious when the movie isn’t trying to make us laugh, may turn off a few people, but overall, it’s a solid summer popcorn movie (even though it probably would have made more money in the less-crowded fall).

The film is rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.

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