Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 12:07 am | Fair 52º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Red 2’

2 Stars — Entertaining

For an older person, there is something satisfying about watching an aging secret agent school a younger one. Created in part for the aging baby-boomer generation who grew up with the stars of Dean Parisot’s Red 2, the basic premise works on several levels.

Not only does it reveal the superior skill of an older professional, but it also weaves a wisdom into their actions that recognizes the necessity of working across national borders and finding a place for love in their espionage activities. Thus the Russian, British and American agents work together to save millions of lives while rekindling forbidden love among them.

The first and second of what will hopefully be many more “Retired, Extremely Dangerous” films are based on a graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner with the screenplay written by Jon and Erich Hoeber. The characters are engaging, and the cast is perfect.

The ensemble cast of the first Red film is reassembled in a way that is even more engaging and less quirky than the first film. In comic book style, the names of the agents define their roles.

The two American agents are Frank (Bruce Willis) and Marvin (John Malkovich), who have brought into the action Frank’s girlfriend and wanna-be agent Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). The chemistry of these three could have carried the film, but when the sharp-shooting British agent Victoria (Helen Mirren) and her Russian counter-agent and lover Ivan (Brian Cox), along with the Russian beauty Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and the Korean assassin Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee) join them, the complexity and humor of the story multiply.

These agents have equally formidable though far less lovable foes. The mad scientist is Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), played with a rather Hannibal-like sinister intelligence. The hatchet man for the nefarious military and government officials is steely-eyed Jack Horton (Neal McDonough), and the poisonous purveyor of secret information is The Frog (David Thewlis).

Since this is a mystery/suspense film, we won’t expose any of the plot except to say that it is vintage comic. Doing what is right is primary, while at the same time, the agents have little regard for human life. This moral inconsistency is part of the offbeat humor, but it is the reason that this film does not deserve a higher rating for moral and spiritual values.

The desire to save millions while dispassionately killing individuals is presented as laughable were it not a common practice in much of the world today. Perhaps in this way our art reflects our culture.


» When Marvin gives Frank counsel on his relationship with Sarah, the juxtaposition is humorous. Yet we often get counsel from people who are not living what they teach. Where do you seek counsel in your life, and does that person’s life and actions match their words?

» The ability to create a weapon that is undetectable to sensors would create a world that is even more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Do you believe that you and your family are safe now? Why do you answer as you do?

» It is difficult to imagine a British agent and a Russian agent falling in love and having a lifelong longing for each other. Yet love may be able to lead us into a peaceful future. What do you think will bring peace in this world if not love?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.