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July 26th, 2013

Movie Review - RED 2


Starring: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Neal McDonough, Brian Cox, David Thewlis, and more.

Directed by: Dean Parisot Written by: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber Based on Characters Created by: Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak Original Music by: Alan Silvestri

Premise: Retired CIA agent Frank Moses is enjoying 'normal' life, though his relationship with Sarah has come into some trouble. Her exposure to the thrills and dangers of being pursued have left her wanting more, but all Frank wants is for her to be safe - from everything. So when Marvin shows up with portents of doom, Frank isn't thrilled. But when Marvin's car explodes, and Frank confirms at the funeral that his odd friend really might not be faking it this time - he hits the start of an emotional rollercoaster. To make matters worse, agents show up outside the funeral to take Frank into custody to grill him over a project he's never heard of - Project Nightingale. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: If you enjoyed "RED" back in 2010, you'll be thrilled to know all those wonderful retired agents are back! Bruce Willis is just too much fun as the emotionally repressed, relationship bumbling, retired CIA agent Frank Moses. John Malkovich is a riot as Marvin. And yes, Marvin is still crazy, but now even dispenses love and relationship advice! Helen Mirren reprises her role as Victoria, more deadly and fun than ever. Catherine Zeta-Jones brought the heat up as Katja, Frank's one and only weakness. Mary-Louise Parker was hilarious as Sarah, craving the adrenaline and vying to prove she can be a better spy than the rival Russian hottie.

You'll have to wait a bit, but Brian Cox also returned as the ever romantic Ivan. He is well worth the wait!

Three other newcomers complete the headliners of this fun puzzle - Byung-hun Lee, who plays Han, a super cool assassin (at least until someone steals his plane), Anthony Hopkins as the somewhat unhinged Dr. Bailey (he's so good!), and Neal McDonough as the heartless Jack Horton. So there's tons of awesome talent for viewers to enjoy!

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: "RED 2" is full of great pyrotechnics. From the explosion of Marvin's car to the fantastic visuals used for a large sky detonation, everything looked wonderful. Throw in the gun battles, car chases, and especially the escape from the Fed holding facility, and your action quota will reach maximum.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The comedy for "RED 2", much like in "RED," is very low key. It's much like reading the great works of Terry Pratchett - serious topics presented with just a bit of ridicule to make them that much more poignant. The characters are all contradictions of themselves, amazing in their element, but almost clueless when dealing with the mundane. Frank Moses is the focal point of most of the odd duality - on the one hand he's a retired yet still incredibly competent superspy, on the other he's a poor fool who can't even tell his overprotectiveness is driving away the very woman/companion he's craved his whole life for.

There are lots of great twists and turns as Frank, Sarah, Marvin and their friends try to unravel the mystery of Project Nightingale. Sarah's jealousy of Katja and how far she's willing to go to try to prove she's better were hilarious just from her undaunted drive to succeed.

Loved the way they tied "RED 2" back to "RED" with little mentions or tidbits that while not hurting the film if you didn't catch them, added a lot for those who did. We caught several of them after the fact, as we had so much fun with this one, we went and watched the original again - and then loved them both that much more.

The only real weak point in the plot was the fact something about Bailey was not mentioned or made clearer earlier (though I could have conceivably stepped out when they mentioned it, so it could be that I just missed it). But on the same vein, hours after seeing the film - I realized the bit about Bailey's pipe and where he finally found it actually singled out a profound and chilling statement of what he was feeling and really doing at that particular time thirty two years before. (And no, I can't tell you what it was! You'll have to see the film and figure it out for yourselves...)  

A couple of recurring jokes also peppered the film. I loved the one about the airplane. The one with "I didn't see that coming" has been used in other films before, so didn't work quite as well, in my opinion, though it was still fun.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Spies, governments, and exposed secrets means we get a ton of action and a ton of stunts as well. Two beautifully filmed and choreographed car sequences tied right back to the original film in their orchestration as well as look and feel. Scene after great scene of gun play and hand to hand combat. Han's introduction to the story was marvelous - and all the scenes with hand to hand combat with Byung-hun Lee were just fantastic.  

The long chase scene through Paris was a great deal of fun.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: While the first "RED" film took us to all sorts of locals in the US, "RED 2" is international. (I did miss seeing the whole postcard motif from the first film, but the red slashes worked pretty well too.) Great shots of places like London, Paris, Moscow. The long chase scene I mentioned before took great advantage of the locale with great shots of the area.

6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Great work by the makeup department, especially as the story goes along and some of the characters get into scuffles without much time to recover.

Conclusion: If you liked/loved "RED" you will like/love "RED2"! All the great, quirky characters are back and getting into even more trouble. The film is full of action, quirky humor, and great stunts.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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