This year, Bruce Willis was involved in a sequel that nearly squandered the goodwill of its franchise name. The script, involving nuclear terrorists and clearing a guy’s name, felt like an old spec piece from the '80s some studio exec found while spring-cleaning his office (and subsequently had rewritten to fit characters people would recognize). The film had its modest pleasures, but at the end of the day, it was a menial exercise in patience that pretty much soaked all the fun out of the series.
So, am I describing A Good Day to Die Hard or RED 2? The answer is: yes.
In Die Hard’s defense, it’s hard to blame the filmmakers for wanting to bring Willis' John McClane back to the big screen for a fifth outing. He’s a well-loved action hero with a strong following. But can anyone say that about Frank Moses, Willis’ gun-slinging goodie from the 2010 action comedy RED?
As much as I enjoyed that slaphappy surprise, I never thought I’d see the retired but extremely dangerous crew return in another installment, and for good reason: There didn’t need to be a sequel. Sure enough, while the original felt amusingly weird, RED 2 is merely inconsequential. Instead of the bombastic blast RED provided, the new movie is uninspired product that uses a semi-familiar title to attract an audience.
It’s not a complete loss: Supporting players John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker revive their memorably quirky roles to remind you how much fun they were in the original, and Anthony Hopkins has a ball playing a mysterious professor. Director Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) gets the action progressing snappily in the third act, but by that point it’s too little too late — consolation for the price of a Redbox rental, maybe, but not a movie ticket.