2010's RED turned out to be an entertaining action-comedy, with a cast of mostly old pros ably and hilariously showing the whippersnappers how to make things go boom. The funny, over-the-top adventures of the Retired, Extremely Dangerous crew - an engaging Bruce Willis, a bonkers John Malkovich, and the tough, elegant Dame Helen Mirren - were based on a limited-run comic book series by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer and provided a welcome dose of comedy and gunplay.
It proved a surprise hit as well, taking in $90 million in the U.S. and grabbing almost $200 million around the globe. With RED 2 bowing this summer, we're not getting word that a third go round in the series is already in development.
The sequel won't open until July 19, but the writers of the original and RED 2 - Jon and Erich Hoeber - have already been signed by Lionsgate to pen RED 3, according to THR. No word yet on a possible plot, but like RED 2, it will be an original story spun-off from the movie series and not based on the comics. The second film follows Frank Moses (Willis), once again trying to enjoy his retirement with his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louis Parker) until fellow RED operative Marvin Boggs (the unhinged Malkovich) goads him into joining him to stop a doomsday weapon (the ever-reliable rogue nuke) with the help of their deadly associate Victoria (Mirren). There are no details on whether or not the cast will return for the third one, but if the script is approved, the film is expected to begin production in early 2014.
The latest RED 2 trailer promises a noticeable uptick in the comedy, particularly with the inclusion of Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World's Odin) as a seemingly deranged nuclear scientist needed to defuse the weapon. Byung Hun-lee (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Side Effects) also join the cast as a younger accomplice/operative and Frank's old flame, who clearly is not to be trifled with.
The ramped-up comic tone is the one aspect of RED 2 that gives fans of the original pause. RED director Robert Schwentke (R.I.P.D.) found just the right blend of goofy humor, strident action and unexpected heart, turning what could have easily been a total throwaway action flick into something special. Galaxy Quest helmer Dean Parisol has stepped in to direct the sequel, and while the impossible action looks about right, the humor appears to be far more overt than in the original (which was admittedly not exactly subtle).
Still, retaining original screenwriters provides a through-line and maintains the overall tone, which looks to be intact. Now, Jon and Erich Hoeber did write last year's Battleship - but we won't hold that against them. RED 2 looks to continue the over-the-top charm of the original, and if the Hoebers can infuse the same sense of fun and surprisingly emotional stakes into a third entry, they'll have another hit on their hands.
Stay tuned for more details on RED 3 as details emerge. In the meantime, RED 2 hits theaters on July 19, 2013.