RED was huge silly fun, and made enough money that a sequel was inevitable, though - as I expected - they skipped the Moldova caper that closed out the first movie. They did make a wonderful callback to it by having most of the mourners at John Malkovich's funeral be Moldovan (don't worry, he gets better). As with the first movie, you could probably watch the trailers and get the best gags, but you'd miss out on the wonderful slow burn going on all the way through the opening as Mary-Louise Parker conceives a vicious romantic rivalry with Catherine Zeta-Jones.
As in RED, the women are doing all the heavy lifting. Helen Mirren has huge fun stealing all her scenes, but the real heart of the movie is still Mary-Louise Parker, alternately hounding long-suffering Bruce Willis to take her out on jobs and freaking out about the consequences of Bruce being out on jobs. This includes a wonderful car chase which becomes less about catching the bad guy and more about making sure that she beats her rival for Bruce. With Zeta-Jones in a Porsche and Mary-Louise in a 2CV, it could only be half way to a fair fight in Paris traffic or a Top Gear special, which just adds to the fun. In scene after scene, it's Parker who sells the action with her pitch perfect reactions to the insanity going on around her. When she's not round, Helen Mirren is deadpanning it out of the park (best deadpan line, when asked where she got some bodies to fake everyone's death "From my freezer." ; funniest single scene; pretending to be crazy enough to think that she's the queen …).
For the rest, it's shoot-em-up, beat-em-up, shoot-em-up some more. Some of it's done well, some of it not so much. There's a great scene where Bruce bashes his way through a squad of interchangeable mooks in a file room, using anything handy to get an edge against heavily armed goons half his age; there's a flair and imagination to that scene which doesn't always carry through. And though they try, there's nothing to equal the wonderful lunacy of the violence in the first movie; no RPG-Magnum duel and Bruce stepping into a skidding Porsche doesn't have quite the panache of him stepping out of a cop car, gun blazing.
The sheer star power of the thing is dizzying. You could go on about how many of the cast have Oscars, or at least nominations, but I think it's funnier that the movie has BOTH of cinema's Hannibal Lecters. Just as in Lecter-ville, Anthony Hopkins gets all the attention, but Brian Cox is always reliably entertaining, and continues his schtick from RED of being the unlikely Russian deus ex machina for those moments when not even the power of cool can get Bruce and co out of their latest pickle. I remember commenting the last time round that Karl Urban's CIA straight-edge put an uncomfortable tinge into proceedings; he's positively cuddly compared to Neal McDonough's gleefully sadistic fixer. Neal McDonough's blue-eyed aryan twinkle makes all his characters look like they're just waiting to be arrested for crimes no-one else has ever imagined, and he's just that little bit too intense for what's really just a comedy with bullets. It's OK for us to think that all this stuff is funny; it seems jarring that he thinks it's hilarious.
Oh; and the hats; everyone gets to wear one or more stupid hat. John Malkovich gets the stupidest, but until his Carmen Miranda number swept any conceivable board of all times and space, it was looking neck and neck between him and Mary-Louise.
As I left, the whole front of the cinema was dominated by some sort of PR stunt for the new One Direction Movie, including a bus sent by the Irish Sun. Appropriately enough, they'd found a topless one.