Red 2 a real joy ride with stellar cast

UNITED STATES - In the same way that a weapon of mass destruction is allegedly central and yet mostly incidental to the plot of action-comedy Red 2, leading action man Bruce Willis, who plays retired spy Frank Moses, is almost pushed to the sidelines of this sequel by a vastly entertaining ensemble cast.

The second instalment of Red brings back Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Brian Cox as the Retired, Extremely Dangerous spy crew, as well as Mary-Louise Parker, who was the love interest unwittingly caught up in a plot to kill Frank in the first film, but is raring to get a piece of the action in the second.

While trying to adjust to suburban anonymity, Frank and Sarah (played by Parker) are plunged back into danger when Marvin Boggs (played by Malkovich) tries to convince Frank that they have been implicated in some government operatives' hunt for a highly dangerous weapon that went missing in Moscow in the 1970s.

That trigger sets the trio lurching from crisis to crisis across the globe in search of leads and uniformed men to kill.

Dame Mirren reprises her role as retired MI6 spy Victoria. Her fans will be thrilled by the fact that she gets more action in this sequel, including spraying bullets out of a spinning car and taking down much younger spies.

Parker is in her element as she morphs from squeamish squeeze to cute and sexy spy - while retaining her endearing goofiness through it all.

Which is why Frank, the over-protective boyfriend, started to get annoying after a while and you really wished he would stick to what he was good at - downing armed agents with his bare hands.

A hot new addition is Korean hunk Lee Byung Hun, who delivers manic action sequences and more acting than he had to, despite playing a hitman with no heart, and very little back story besides.

It was gratifying, firstly, to see that he was not just the token Asian, and, secondly, to see mostly gratuitous shots of his rock-hard bod from the get go.

For the guys, there's smouldering Catherine Zeta-Jones, who spurs Sarah on to increasingly hilarious stunts in a catty war for Frank's attentions.

Oh yes, they all want to get their hands on the bomb.

That was the invention of barmy genius Edward Bailey, played by Anthony Hopkins, whose silky voice is sufficient to give one flashbacks to his Oscar-winning turn as cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs (1991).

You are far more likely to enjoy this tipsy spy caper if you don't try too hard to make sense of the plot, and just enjoy the dizzy ride with a stellar cast through London, Paris and Moscow.

Get My Paper for more stories.