For a film with a cast that includes Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, along with Academy Award nominee John Malkovich and starring the always charming Bruce Willis, who would have dreamed that the film would be stolen by Mary-Louise Parker?
This is a reprise of the 2010 sleeper hit RED about a bunch of old geezer operatives who kill more people and spew more bullets while creating more laughs than any film this year. The plot is irrelevant, except that everybody except our heroes is a bad guy. Finally, there is a film that paints Iran as a bad guy. Apparently this film was not approved by Hollywood’s political correctness department.
Although I thought it a little long, director Dean Perisot (taking over from the original’s director, Robert Schwentke) keeps the pace moving admirably and the screenplay (Jon & Erich Hoeber) keeps the jokes coming just as fast. Both Willis and Malkovich have mastered their deadpan humor, but they are constantly being upstage by Parker to whom this film really belongs.
The entertainment value of the movie is bolstered by the exotic locations, mostly Paris but some of the action takes place in Moscow. This is not a movie to go on and on about. The only thing that’s important is that what it lacks in credibility it more than makes up for in entertainment value.
Even God would find it difficult to forgive this piece of pseudo-stylistic rubbish. It’s little more than a craven display of stomach-churning graphic mayhem. Why a budding superstar like Ryan Gosling would attach his persona to a thing like this is beyond comprehension. Exacerbating its distastefulness are the opaque story-telling, the immoral message, and the zombie like movements of the characters.
Writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn, who was responsible for Gosling’s interesting film, Drive (2011), says he wanted to make a film about someone fighting God. Instead he makes this monstrosity. Only from the production notes was I able to discern the plot but knowing the plot doesn’t make this any more palatable. Since it’s unlikely that anybody reading this critique who gives it any value will actually see this, I won’t bore you with any reference to Refn’s “plot,” except to say that it has something to do with the mob and an Oedipus complex. But it’s mostly just an excuse to show as much torture in as much graphic detail as possible
There isn’t a sympathetic character in the film. Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) is an avenging evil who walks like a zombie and kills without feeling. His kills are shown in graphic, bloody detail. Gosling also walks around like a zombie (they all do, actually), showing no emotion but killing people nonetheless. Gosling and Chang end up being antagonists. But who cares? There’s nobody in this film who inspires any feelings of compassion.
Refn films scenes that have no business on any screen. The MPAA to its everlasting discredit gives this an R rating. I’ve never seen a film that more deserved to be NC-17 for its gross, graphic torture scenes of bloody killings. Graphically showing a character slowly excising a man’s eye out with a knife and all the other mutilations apparently are no more morally objectionable than showing a woman’s nipple, because the latter will always result in an the very same R rating the MPAA awards this. This is just another example of many that there is something dreadfully wrong with Hollywood values and that the problem starts at the top.