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Red 2 (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

We have a sorta fascination with older, aged action heroes nowadays without really knowing it. People have flocked to Liam Neeson movies and there seems to be some interest still there when Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger do a movie. Its come a long way since an aged Roger Moore was vine swinging in India or hanging off a fire engine in San Francisco. Well, one series (Based on a comic book) decided to embrace all that, with the action comedy Red. Lionsgate is continue to consistently dig back into some of its catalog from this decade and make the 4K jump with them. Red and its sequel, Red 2, are next in line, coming out September 5th. If you’re interested in snagging a copy to have when it hits shelves, click on the Amazon link below.

Film 

Former CIA black-ops agent Frank Moses and his old partner, Marvin Boggs, are caught in the grip of retirement — but that soon changes when a powerful Cold War weapon known as Nightshade resurfaces decades after its disappearance. With assassins hot on their trail, Frank and his team set out to find the one scientist who can unravel the mystery of Nightshade and help them save themselves — and the world.

Red 2 comes up short when trying to pretty much repeat the successes of the original film. Oddly the film contains a similar bit of pacing, plot beats and characters, just none done as well. Its also performed in a sort of tired way. What’s missing is the original film’s director who had a much better grasp on the action direction and the cast itself.  This new one has plenty of shoot em ups, explosions and action, but its lacking any sort of unique touch to it. There are no flashy camera movements or shootouts with a character of their own. Like something I always say, “It just feels like people shooting guns”. Red 2 has these little comic book segues, but yet doesn’t know how to translate that fun feel to live action.

They’ve returned the cast that survived the previous movie, but they’ve all sort of settled in here. And once again, they choose to wait way to long to bring Helen Mirren truly back into the fold.  Bruce Willis isn’t quite yawning through this as I once thought and he seems to be at his very best when sharing a scene with Mary-Louise Parker. In fact, she’s the highlight of the film as she’s super game. At times it almost makes her feel a little over the top because of how much more into it she is than the others. The newcoming vets, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta Jones don’t really add much, though you really want them too. Neil McDonough plays a lesser Karl Urban here and Byung-Hun Lee would have benefitted from a much better director. David Thewlis is fun, but underutilized.

Now, while I have made a fuss that the action is just kinda bland, there are some impressive stunts in the mix in places, its just not here through and through. Overall too, the story itself being kinda tired doesn’t assist in making the action stake carry any more weight. I’m trying to write a kinder bit here, but this is okay for my old “Bag of Doritos” adage when it comes to trashy action film.

It doesn’t take much to see Red 2 as inferior to its predecessor, but I think its still okay for that kinda movie that’s background noise or just kind of lazying around.  There’s less artistry this time around, and not just Willis, the cast doesn’t feel like they were gel’ing as they were in the first film. Maybe they all felt they didn’t want to keep doing these. The material obviously isn’t there and it just winds up being a generic action flick.  That’s not horrible, its just not interesting or worthwhile either.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265 (With Dolby Vision)

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Red 2 has a picture that really compliments that of the first one as they share many of the same characteristics. The first one has a bit more to do and heavier doses of HDR. This one relishes in some good works with blacks. The image is really sharp, crisp and defined here. Details are really strong from people’s skin textures (Look at Zeta Jones) to the old worn cracked leather from a chair in the background. Its pretty impressive, nothing mind blowing, but of the better Lionsgate catalog titles.

Depth:  Red 2 features some solid distancing and dimensional work in background and foreground relations. Things feel nice, loose and separated. Movements are cinematic, natural, smooth and have a confidence that leaves not jittering or blur distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and keep the picture with a more dark and natural appearance. It also helps to strengthen regular details and crispness. Shaded scenes and those in darkness retain plenty of detail and hide really next to nothing. No crushing was witnessed during the review watch for this movie.

Color Reproduction: Colors here are quite good, and full. Though, the HDR doesn’t really apply itself til the final action sequence, sadly. There’s a ticking digital counter that has some good red, as well as a helicopter and a beautiful looking explosion. The red animated segues also come on strong. So, oddly, and cheesily, Red 2 is very good when its red.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and stay consistent from the start of the film right to the very end. Facial features like stubble, wrinkles, moles, cracks, scars, lip texture, dried blood and more are plain as day from any given distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 2.0 Dolby Digital (Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish

Dynamics: One of the impressive bits about both Red movies is their action packed, hard punching Atmos tracks they’ve been upgraded to.  Its loud, fierce and makes the movie probably more fun than it deserves to be. But, I’ll say this, a track like this makes a film as this one a bit more eye opening and fun and almost worth the revisit for the sound alone.

Height: Overhead bullets whiz, helicopters fly over, depending on the angle, some other things can float over. Its not to the extreme, but the speaker is utilized.

Low Frequency Extension: Gun shots (even with a silencer) pound, explosions rumble, engines roar, punches pound and this track really just kicks.

Surround Sound Presentation: Red 2 has a pretty well thought out mix. Gunfire can originate from a back left speaker, the side or the front. Sound travel is a true 360 degree experience here. No speaker is left forgotten and the sequences always fell right up, present and putting you in the middle of the action.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear, perfectly woven into the mix and never drowned out, always audible.

Extras 

Red 2 comes with the standard Blu-ray edition (originally reviewed here) and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

The Red 2 Experience (HD, 34:41) – A standard featurette that has the cast and crew commenting on the film.

Gag Reel (HD, 4:24)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 4:28)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:32)

Summary 

Red 2 fails to reach any of the highs from the first film. But, if you’re gonna put the first one on 4K Ultra-HD, then you might as well put the second one out for completionist’s sake (Remember how long something like Ghostbusters 2 took to get to standard Blu-ray?). The picture is an improvement, though light on blasting the colors with HDR, it still looks better than the standard Blu-ray. Once again, the Atmos track rocks. Extras are the same, so you really gotta love this subpar sequel in order to upgrade.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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