Red 2 — penned by original writers Jon and Eric Hoeber — picks up the lives of Frank, Sarah and Marvin pretty much where we left them in Red. Former CIA hitman and operative Frank Moses is trying to stay "retired" and keep girlfriend Sarah safe from operatives that still want to kill him.
Of course, safe is never safe. Frank and Marvin worked on a project in the 1970s that placed an atomic bomb in Russia. The powers that be want to kill them for that knowledge.
Their solution: find the bomb.
It takes our heroes globetrotting and us to the same wonderful humor and guilty-pleasure fun of the first movie. Do we care about the plot? Not really. It's iffy at best and is an excuse for some great gun fights, car chases and character comedy.
It's rare that a movie based on a graphic novel is really good. Even more rare is a sequel that is as funny -- if not more funny and fun -- than the original.
Bruce Willis' Frank is the pivot the humor revolves around. As in the first flick, John Malkovich's Marvin tosses out one great one-liner after another and a giddy Mary-Louise Parker continues to have an adventure-seeking blast with her character.
The always exceptional Helen Mirren reprises the cold-as-ice but loving and sometimes matronly Victoria. Brian Cox does a quick cameo as her Russian lover Ivan.
Red 2 adds new characters to the mix. Character actor Neal McDonough replaces the very good Karl Urban as the guy doing the chasing. He's okay but not as much fun. A sultry Catherine Zeta-Jones is an old Frank flame and Korean actor and martial arts newcomer Byung-hun Lee is a hoot as an enemy from Frank's past.
Anthony Hopkins wraps up the cast with a very funny turn as the scientist involved with the bomb.
The first Red was the surprise movie of 2010. The film was the most fun of the year, and we laughed our butts off. The end credits hinted of a sequel. So does this one.
Red 2, we now understand, will lead to Red 3. And Red 2, like Red, may turn out to be the most fun any of us have in a theater this year.
Director: Dean Parisot
Stars: Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some violence. It is playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.