The action comedy “Red 2” is really a series of running gags strung together by filmmakers desperately hoping nobody notices there’s not really a plot.
The second film based on DC Comics’ title about retired spies finds ex-assassin Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) trying to settle down with girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). But Frank’s nutty old pal Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) tells him they’ve been framed for espionage involving some long-forgotten Soviet nuke.
With a vengeful assassin (Byung-hun Lee) and their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren) assigned to kill them, Frank and Marvin (with Sarah excited to be along for the ride) globe-hop through Paris, Moscow and London. They seek out a Cold War scientist (Anthony Hopkins) and encounter a Russian operative (Catherine Zeta-Jones) from Frank’s past.
Director Dean Parisot (“GalaxyQuest”) stages a relentless number of over-the-top scenes of gunplay, all of it oddly bloodless. And returning writers Jon and Erich Hoeber push the tired idea that it’s hilarious to have these contract killers offer romantic advice to Frank and Sarah. The jokes, alas, are as full of holes as the bullet-riddled backdrops.
Opens today at theaters everywhere; rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material; 116 minutes.