Gini’s Christmas Classics? | “Red” and “Red 2”

The Two Gay Geeks and our Staff are taking a much needed break from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, but we still wanted to have content for you to read during that time. As such we got busy and watched all of our favorite holiday videos. Some are classics and others are off-beat and loosely associated with the holidays. We hope you enjoy our offerings and that you holiday season is safe, sane, and satisfying.

Red and Red 2

By Gini Koch

Are these Christmas movies? Well, RED takes place during Christmas-time, and there’s snow in RED 2, so I’m going to say yes. But, are they classics? Let’s find out…

RED means Retired: Extremely Dangerous in CIA and other government intelligence lingoes. You don’t need to know that going in – the movie will explain it soon enough.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a RED counterintelligence and black ops agent who’s retired, living in the suburbs, and bored out of his mind. His only real relationship is with Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) who works customer service for the government agency that issues Frank’s monthly checks.
We see Frank and Sarah have conversations over the course of time – every time he calls in, asks for her, and tells her that his check (which he’s holding in his hand) hasn’t arrived. She reissues his check, he rips up the one he’s holding, and they talk about things. She tells him what books she’s reading and he goes and gets those same books and read them. They haven’t met in person, however. But Frank decides it’s time and makes a sorta date with Sarah to see her in Kansas City in the next week.

At the same time, forces are moving in the CIA and all of a sudden, there’s a hit squad at Frank’s house in the middle of the night. If you think that’s the end of Frank, you’re not clear on the movie’s title.

Frank eliminates all his would-be assassins and makes a beeline for Sarah. He’s lurking in her apartment when she comes back from yet another terrible first date. Why is he lurking? He needs her to come with him right away, because otherwise whoever’s trying to kill Frank will go after Sarah, because “they” know he likes her. And Frank’s not wrong.

He takes Sarah and they go off on a road trip of sorts, to try to figure out what’s actually going on. Meanwhile the CIA has assigned their up and coming hotshot, William Cooper (Karl Urban) to eliminate Frank.

Joining forces with Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), and Victoria (Helen Mirren), all of whom are RED also, and enlisting the help of a longtime frenemy in the KGB, Ivan Simonov (Brian Cox), Frank and Sarah and the rest do their best to stay alive and turn the tables, while also figuring out just who’s set them up, why, and how to stop the coverup from the past they’re somehow involved in.

RED is loaded with action, and the stunts are out of this world. It’s also hilarious, a true action-comedy. Everyone is pitch perfect in their roles and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Helen Mirren wielding a sniper rifle.

RED goes all over the U.S., like a fun little holiday travelogue with a lot of firearms and explosions. Through the caper, Sarah and Frank get closer until, by the end, if they survive, they’ll be a couple.

Well, there’s RED 2, so while not everyone made it out of RED alive, obviously at least Frank survived. Sarah did, too, and they’re living together in suburbia, with Frank acting like Costco is the pinnacle of excitement and Sarah clearly missing the “how we met” portion of their relationship.

Enter Marvin, who shares that “they” are after him again. When his car blows up in front of them, Sarah insists they attend Marvin’s funeral. Right after which, Frank’s taken by government officials, led by Jack Horton (Neal McDonough, honing the chilling persona he’s now using for TV’s Arrowverse shows), for “questioning”. Since we’ve already seen Horton kill a four-star general, we know that Frank’s in trouble. Well, at least, they all think Frank’s going to be in trouble.

Turns out, everyone’s after a live nuclear device that Frank and Marvin had something to do with back in the day. Frank escapes while inside the CIA and Marvin (spoiler alert: he’s not dead) and Sarah come to rescue him at the last minute.
Russia is involved again, and not just in the person of Ivan, but also as represented by Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a top Russian spy and Frank’s former lover or, as Marvin puts it, his “kryptonite”.

Frank has to get the remainder of the team back together again to once more save the day and avert Armageddon, all while having the top assassin in the world – Han Cho Bai (Byung-Hun Lee) – after him. And, of course, Frank’s the reason Han was disgraced and turned assassin.
As a truly positive note, we get to see Han fully naked for a scene that identifies how top of an assassin he is. So, if you’re hoping for a totally hot toned hardbody, this movie does not disappoint. Frankly, both RED and RED 2 have nice visuals for those looking for younger, because Karl Urban is also no slouch in the Hottie McHotterson Department. But I digress…

Frank and Team need to figure out what’s really going on and somehow prevent the destruction of a major city, all while Frank and Sarah work out their relationship issues.

As with RED, RED 2 is another hilarious action-comedy. The stunts are just as wild and just as great, and the acting remains stellar. This time, the action takes place all over the world, including Moscow, London, and Paris.

One of the greatest things about this sequel is that everyone is back, particularly Sarah. In so many action series, the woman is seen as replaceable, in part to show how desirable the male lead is. But RED 2 leans fully in on the Frank and Sarah relationship, and it not only mines comedy gold, but it also shows a relationship going through growing pains, risking failure, and then coming back together for all the right reasons. Sure, those reasons include a lot of firearms, but when you’re RED, you need to be sure you don’t become dead.

Sadly, they took a little too long to get RED 2 out, and it underperformed, so even though they had a script treatment for RED 3, it’s never going to happen. Which is a pity, but at least we have these two movies, showing that retired does not mean useless or incapable.

These are movies I own and re-watch all the time. I like to watch RED at Christmas because, in many ways, it reminds me of what the holidays are like – chaotic and potentially destructive, with a fun, gooey center if you just hang on and work for it. And I like to watch RED 2 because it’s the rare sequel that stands up to the original and expands its universe in a wonderful way. They’re both classics, whatever time of year you watch them.

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