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Morgan Freeman had it right in the first “RED” installment when his doomed character grinned at fellow retired black-ops agents Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren and said, “We’re getting the band back together. That’s nice.” It was sort of nice, an “Expendables” alternative with some actual wit. No matter that this particular celebrity klatch didn’t really have any shared industry history — they seemed to be having effortless fun. We even got to see Malkovich, as a paranoid nutjob, slumming in a role that, for a change, wasn’t just embarrassing.
“RED 2” is a sequel that has some snappy interplay, typically courtesy of Malkovich, but mostly feels like a cast working to manufacture what came naturally the first time.