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Mini-Reviews: Red 2, Turbo, R.I.P.D.

Red 2:

Towards the beginning of Red 2, Bruce Willis is trapped without a gun in a small room as a task force of roughly a dozen or so soldiers swarms in to kill him. It’s not a spoiler to reveal Willis does work, takes out the soldiers, and escapes from this seemingly impossible predicament. If this illogical premise excites you, like it does me, then you’re in for a treat with Red 2, a silly action-packed lark aimed squarely at the heart of the action-comedy fanatic. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker are back, ready to ham it up and fire roughly a billion bullets during the hundred-minute run time. As someone who enjoyed the first, I was pleasantly surprised to find the sequel an improvement overall. The action is more plentiful and more stylish, the female characters are given more to do this time around (especially Parker, relegated to damsel-in-distress in the first, who here is a joy to watch), and the cast additions are terrific. Anthony Hopkins (never known to back away from a ham contest) chomps at the bit here, Neal McDonough makes for a menacingly smug adversary, and best of all, Byung-hun Lee is psychotic fun as the hitman hired to bring Willis’ character down. Lee’s sequence in which he takes out an entire police force while handcuffed to a convenience store refrigerator may be the highlight of the film. Or it may sound dumb to you, in which case, this film isn’t your bread and butter. For me? It’s a piece of artisan sourdough spread with Land O Lakes.

Turbo:

“The most tried-and-true formula in the history of storytelling is the tale of the underdog. In the proud tradition of David, The Miracle on Ice, and Susan Boyle comes Turbo, the snail who dreamed a dream of being a race car driver. Turbo doesn’t have to face an adversary like a giant or the Russians or outward appearances– his adversary is reality, the fact that a snail literally can’t be a race car driver. However, since the concept of a snail going really really fast seems marketable enough, the plot mandates Turbo be sucked into the engine of a street race car, which floods him with nitrous oxide and gives him magically all of the traits of an actual car, from headlights to the ability to play songs from his mouth like a radio. He meets a crew of ethnically diverse snails who belong to ethnically diverse humans in a small Van Nuys strip mall, and as you would expect, Turbo is given the opportunity to race against cars in the Indy 500. I would have no problem accepting all of these occurrences as totally normal if the film’s characters and messages weren’t so troublingly shallow. Turbo boasts one of the most one-note protagonist in animated film history, some troubling racial elements, and a paint-by-numbers execution that makes this film about the dream to go fast feel painfully slow.”

Read the rest of this review at Movie Mezzanine.

R.I.P.D.:

I have no problem with a rip-off. Certainly R.I.P.D. aspires to rip off Men In Black, Ghostbusters, and Ghost in equal measure– the problem isn’t its aim, the problem is its execution. It doesn’t effectively rip off any of the three, instead content to be its own lazy and bizarre amalgamation of awful. R.I.P.D., directed by Robert Schwentke, follows a completely bland and de-balled Ryan Reynolds as a corrupt cop who is killed by his partner, played by Kevin Bacon at his most bored (see X-Men: First Class to see what Bacon can do with a villainous role when properly incentivized). After death, instead of going to Hell, he gets a chance to serve for the Rest In Peace Department, a dead police force hired to bring the dead who’ve escaped Hell back to justice. There’s an abundance of potential in a number of the concepts in the film’s skeleton, but none of them are seen through to anything creative. Example: Ryan Reynolds and his partner look like an old Chinese man and a supermodel, which should provide plenty of ripe situational comedy, but instead is used for the occasional cutaway gag– it’s never fully exploited. This film instead spends endless minutes on a love story that was a doomed storyline from conception, the blatant Ghost ripoff that requires either Reynolds or Bacon to play developed characters for it to work (pity Stephanie Szostak, a charming actress stuck with nothing here). Jeff Bridges and Mary-Louise Parker have fun spouting off the occasional non-sequitur, all of which will be provided in an inevitable YouTube supercut, which will doubtlessly make these moments far more enjoyable by removing all the wet blanket context. R.I.P.D. is an endless ninety-six minutes. It’s a fair candidate for worst film of the summer.

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~ by russellhainline on July 22, 2013.

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