Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Just Like Yesterday: RED 2 & the Virtues Of 'Silliness'

RED 2 did not fare well this weekend at the box office, opening in the number five position for being labeled "silly" by numerous critics; I agree, the film is "silly," but we disagree--as usual--about the meaning of why the film is silly and probably which parts are silly. This isn't a pro-capitalist film, it's not an anti-socialist film, it's a pro-America film, which is probably what critics didn't like about it. In this day, in this age, when zombies are plaguing the screen and there is so much uncertainty in our future, silliness is not only a statement of counter-cultural importance, but a theological concept as well. Each character has a international identity that plays out in one arena in the film, however, the film's insistence on "doing what's right" and emotional security creates a two-way dialogue with films such as World War Z, while bringing in the Man Of Steel and you know, dear readers, that I love these kind of discussions. We're going to keep this a short post, but we have to start with the most important character in the film: Sarah.
Before we get into the importance of Victoria's contract to kill Frank, let's talk about a costume trend throughout the film with her: fur. Generally speaking, women don't wear fur (as much) nowadays as they did say, during the 1930s, '40s and '50s, because of animals' rights activists, so seeing a woman wearing fur in a film should give us pause to consider why film makers made that decision (in this image, she has black fur around the shoulders). Victoria is a killer, a professional assassin, and the fur brings out the animal qualities of her identity as a killer in spite of her professional demeanor (for example, her elegant appearance in spite of her being surrounded by the multiple corpses of dead, yet armed men; this contradiction is what creates the "humor" of the scene and an unexpected, or surprise quality in Victoria's character). This comes out more in the original RED, but animal instincts are usually conveying a sense of our own animal nature, and Victoria's nature is as a killer (in the original, when Frank seeks out her help, she's been retired and is bored with not killing anyone). In RED 2, Victoria helps Frank and Marvin by staging their deaths in their jeep and Sarah asks her where did she get the bodies to take the place of Frank and Marvin, to which Victoria replies, "My freezer." Clearly, the construction of this joke is that a freezer is a place where meat is kept, however, not human meat, and that Victoria would have even considered placing multiple bodies in her freezer "brings out the animal in her." But, as with most symbols, "fur" is two-fold, with a negative and a positive side. Consider, for example, in the image above: Victoria stands in front of a window (symbolic of reflection and meditation) and she's surrounded by the window frame, so in this image, Victoria has been "framed" for our deeper meditation of her character and the gesture she makes indicate what path we should take. Her right hand holds a glove but her left hand is still covered by a glove, so--because the arms symbolize our strength(s)--part of Victoria's strength is "exposed" (symbolized by the un-gloved hand) while part of her strength is still "concealed" (the hand still wearing the glove). Her strength is her ability to kill, evidenced by the dead bodies, but her other strength is also knowing when NOT to kill (Frank and Marvin, for example) and we have all ready seen this in another MI6 agent, Skyfall's James Bond (Daniel Craig) when, in the National Gallery, Bond tells Q it's important to know when to pull the trigger and when not to pull the trigger. So Victoria, while elegantly dressed, is really an animal in two ways: she exhibits the killer traits of an animal, but also the loyalty to the "pack" (Frank, Marvin, Sarah, Ivan) an animal can have and while the film makers keep Victoria in this profile, they also manage to explore her characterization in consistent, but new, ways.
Why is Sarah (Mary Louise Parker) the most important character? Because Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) loves her and would do anything to protect her. Sarah is largely innocent about the kind of life Frank as a CIA operative led, and it's her innocence from this kind of trauma which is precisely the reason why Frank loves her and needs her: he not only wants to protect her life, he wants to protect her from becoming a killer and becoming stained with bloodshed, which he can't do. This might seem simple, however, the opening scene takes place at CostCo, and the scene is layered like a taco with meaning. 
A great poster can do exactly what this image does: take a scene no where in the film, but tell you exactly what is in the film. We saw in the image above the two animal natures of Victoria, and now we see the two animal natures in Marvin. Marvin is, like a sheep, incredibly docile and Marvin pretty much "goes along" with anything Frank wants to do (sheep are so docile, they are used as a metaphor for Christ himself being led to the slaughter). But we also see these sheep in their herd, and we see Marvin do that as well: herding the herd together. When Marvin realizes something is going to happen, he goes to get Frank and says, "If it makes you feel better, bring the girl," but what Marvin really means is, "It would make me feel better if you bring the girl because there's safety in numbers" which is why, when Marvin arrives at the CIA headquarters to rescue Frank, Marvin all ready has Sarah with him: he wants them all together and, the reason why Marvin calls Victoria and tells her where they will be, he wants her to be with them.  But the other side of Marvin's animal nature is the sheep that can smell a wolf, and why not knowing if Victoria was really willing to kill them made Marvin so uneasy, but exactly why when Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) appears and he knows she's trouble and Marvin knows Frank is in jeopardy. The bazooka (I guess that's what it is) sticking out of his backpack (even though he's amid a bunch of sheep) let's us know that Marvin considers himself to be "one of the fold" amongst the sheep, but also a kind of shepherd to the whole flock (he looks out for Frank and Sarah and wants their relationship to succeed and doesn't like any of them being vulnerable). Just as a humorous contradiction is created above with Victoria being elegantly dressed amidst the corpses, so Marvin being so heavily armed amidst a group of sheep is humorous; additionally, just as part of Victoria is concealed (her gloved left hand) so Marvin is partially concealed, turned away from the viewer, allowing us to see only part of him, not to mention whatever else he has in his backpack; why? All the drugs Marvin was given has damaged him, and Marvin has "baggage" from his days in the CIA (his backpack) which has created a burden for him (he wears his "baggage" on his back, symbolizing his burden, or his cross to bear). This is the vulnerable side to Marvin he won't let be seen and why he carries so many weapons, leading us to discussion on why he's always giving Sarah guns. Like Sarah, and because he's also a shepherd who knows there are wolves, Marvin knows what it's like to be vulnerable and doesn't want Sarah to feel vulnerable the way he does so often, so he arms her so she can protect herself. When Frank takes the guns away from her, it's not because he wants her to be vulnerable, or he doesn't believe in the Second Amendment, it's because he--being the active principle of the military protecting the economy and American interests--wants to protect her himself AND doesn't want her to be potentially "lose her innocence" that he values so deeply about her, the normalcy of life he can have with Sarah that Frank doesn't feel he can have on his own. Marvin will probably never have any normalcy, so feeling like he's a part of a herd is the closest he can have to being a part of a relationship/family. 
The first shot of the film is the shopping cart "loose wheel." With a film filled with leading stars, why introduce the narrative with something as inconsequential, unnoticeable and boring as the wheel on a shopping cart, unless the wheel of the shopping cart is NOT inconsequential? The wheel could mean numerous things, even a reference to the importance of the "loose" Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins) and the role his wobbly allegiance will play in the film, or the uncontrollable Marvin who does such crazy things, or Han who is unsteady and refuses to be driven by a greater good like the other characters (up to a point in the film, anyway); all these are valid readings, however, I think the most fruitful is that the wheel symbolizes a part of what's wrong with Frank's and Sarah's relationship: it's off balance.
In the beginning of the film, definitely when Marvin comes to rescue Frank at the CIA interrogation center, Marvin wears a duster and a cowboy hat. Why is this important? Cowboys are a specifically a US icon, symbolic of the Old West and in numerous films as of late (Django Unchained and The Lone Ranger are the two, anti-American cowboy films, but there have also been several pro-American, pro-Capitalist cowboy references, such as Silver Linings Playbook (the Cowboys are America's team), Cowboys and Aliens, Gallowwalkers (coming out August 6), A Good Day To Die Hard (the "dancer" says, "You Americans are all cowboys,"). We could say that, just as the cowboys have died, so Marvin has died (this is the first time we see him after his funeral) but just as Marvin is "resurrected" so too are cowboys (Frank tells Sarah Marvin has faked his death numerous times, but Marvin really seems to be dead in the coffin; why? In some way, Frank, Victoria, Edward Bailey, Ivan (who Frank tells, "I watched you die," but didn't die) and Katja are ALL resurrected in the film the way zombies are "resurrected"; so what's the difference? To socialists, there is no difference: if you are pro-America, you are a zombie, but for those who are Christians--and there is an interesting reference made to Christ in the film via Edward Bailey--we die so we can be resurrected in a purer, more holy state, a state more capable of virtue and fighting evil, a point particularly applicable to Marvin who we see blessing himself when Katja dies. So, just as Marvin is resurrected, the "cowboy spirit" is resurrected with him because that spirit is what it's going to take to win this battle, just like the Cold War and this is an important line of analysis because I am confident we will be seeing something like it in Captain America: the Winter Soldier.
Sarah complains about "all this bulk" in the store (even as she's eating out of an over-sized bag of chips) and almost immediately, Frank decides they need a power-washer for the house and patio; why? These is a critique of capitalism, that we buy way more than what we need because stores like CostCo make it available (we have been "at" CostCo is two other films recently, The Watch [Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughan] and The Apparition, and both films make similar statements). Yet the power-washer is also an over-statement: a hose would probably be sufficient for what Frank needs, but he wants it really clean, and that is a reference to Sarah. As usual, Sarah symbolizes the "motherland" because she's female and (reluctantly) characterizes the passive role; usually, men symbolize the active role of the economy, and Frank shopping (here at CostCo and then he gives Sarah money to shop  in Paris) supports this, but without the military protecting American interests, the economy isn't safe (please see the character poster below for elaboration), so more specifically, film makers have aligned Frank's character with the really active (and not passive role) of the military and America as an international peace keeper, which is why the film opens at a store and the initial conflict is set-up for us here,...
"The best never rest," and this simple tagline contains three important concepts for our attention. First, "the best," those who abhor mediocrity, those who have worked and honed their skills and talents to use them for a greater good as Frank keeps rallying everyone in the film to do, to save the world, not fulfill their own agendas. Saying the best should utilize their skills for a greater good, as the film does, radically challenges Steven Spielberg's film War Horse, wherein the Thoroughbred Joey wasn't prized or spared because of his talents for racing, but because Joey "lowered" himself to pull the plow and a wagon, a job the horse Truffle couldn't do, so Truffle died; this concept of ignoring the skills and talents of someone and forcing them to do "grunt work" instead is prevalent throughout Max Brooks' novel World War Z, where--regardless of who you were or what you could do, cleaning the latrines is your new way of life and you will find if far more rewarding. Likewise, in Gangster Squad, two of the best on the force are killed because they are the best and, in a socialist society, anyone really good at what they do can't be allowed to live because it will make the mediocre feel bad about not being exceptional and those with exceptional skills will pose a threat to the government control. In The Conjuring, Lorraine Warren's exceptional talent is "punished" by the film makers because she's tempted to put herself above her husband; the family is nearly killed by their neighbors in The Purge because the neighbors are jealous of their financial success and want those "above them" dead. In Young Adult, Mavis (Charlize Theorn), the one who became a successful writer, is shown to be an alcoholic wreck because that's what success does to a person, so don't become successful, stay a mediocrity.  So just the concept of "the best" is a traditionally American one, but one coming under increasing attack from those who want to promote mediocrity instead (and there are facets trying to do that).  For example, Mission Impossible, GI Joe, The Avengers, Fast and Furious 6, X-Men, (and any crime show on TV), etc., all advertise that you are going to see the very best in their field at work; why? Because they inspire us to be the best we can be in our own fields, regardless of what that is, and because we want America to be associated with the best. The second of the three concepts is "rest." There is always a need for the services of those who are the best in their field, and retirement or vacation doesn't exist for people like Frank Moses and Superman, Tony Stark and Captain Kirk because the evil in the world is always at work. In another recent Bruce Willis film, A Good Day To Die Hard, John McLane keeps saying, "I'm on vacation!" as he helps his son to catch the bad guys; why does he say this? Because Americans' role in international politics has been so substantially diminished since 2008, it's like America is "resting" or "on vacation" and has completely forgotten that terrorism is on the loose (we haven't as a country, but that's the policy of Obama).  This leads us to the third concept: "never." There is no time at all when a letting down of vigilance is permitted, like when Frank lets down his guard and takes a drink of the poisoned wine offered to him by Katja, or when Han lets down his guard and his plane is stolen. There is never a time when America can't be America and working to keep the peace in the world and when we, as Americans, can allow our government to let our guard down. 
Frank wants Sarah to be completely happy and blissful in her world of consumerism (eating the huge bag of chips she hasn't paid for) in a state of utopia; but she's not happy. We have to take this as a political statement for ourselves, that America is not just about living in a consumer's paradise (the CostCo and Sarah eating the chips) and never being bothered about anything unpleasant (which is how Frank protects Sarah), rather, because Marvin shows up wearing a camouflaged coat covering his face, that there is a hidden message being sent to us like Marvin covertly showing up, and that message is: without the reality of the danger of life--not a thrill or excitement, but the reality of how vicarious life can be--other realities cease being realities, like Sarah's and Frank's love (consequently, we will probably be seeing this again in 300: Rise Of An Empire, where the need to defend the homeland against the invading forces to preserve their way of life is at stake). In other words, Sarah doesn't appreciate how well Frank  protects her because she has no real concept of how dangerous danger is; the others, like Victoria and Katja, are so used to danger, everything becomes dangerous with them and there is no peace anywhere. Danger is a part of reality, for America as well, and excluding a part of reality--like danger--drains reality of reality and our lives become unbalanced and then nothing properly functions; like the wheel on the shopping cart.
In one hand is the gun, and in the other is a basketful of groceries; the gun makes it possible to have the groceries, while the groceries provides incentive to have the gun. We genuinely take it for granted that we can go to the store whenever we want, and know whatever we want will be there; we pick it up, pay for it and walk out without having to wait in lines, take rain checks, compromise because it's not in stock, worry about starving or doing without, etc., and that's because our military protects our interests overseas and at home. This store behind Frank is the exact opposite of the stores we see in both Contagion and World War Z. So it's ironic that such a tough guy like Frank Moses would become such the perfect home-maker, however, without the tough guys like Frank Moses, "home-making" wouldn't be possible. In the store, Marvin calls Frank "kemosabe, a direct reference to the Lone Ranger; why? In The Lone Ranger film with Johnny Depp, Tonto says that kemosabe means "wrong brother," but in the original TV series, it meant "good scout," and we can see Frank not only being able to scout out the problems in the film, but also "scouting" each person's skills and strengths so he can recruit them to help him. Additionally, just as Iron Man 3 knew The Lone Ranger would cite the Sand Creek Massacre incident from history (please see Season Of Terror: Iron Man 3 for more), and Iron Man 3 pre-empted that discussion, so the next line Marvin says is, "They're coming," we also hear Brad Pitt's Gerry Lane say in World War Z. Whereas Lane means "They're coming," to be the United Nations coming to save them, because America can't save itself, Marvin's reference is to the enemies coming trying to destroy us.
When Sarah tells Frank that their relationship has become stale, in a way, that's a terrible thing to say because he does so much for her to make her happy and safe; on the other hand, it's a sign of love for her to tell him the total truth and not hide it from him because even though it seems like she just wants some excitement, in reality, there has to be the dark side to show how bright the light is, just like with each of the characters in the film having their own dark sides in addition to their "heroic" side. It's not apparent to Sarah that Frank is protecting her because he protects her so well, she doesn't realize danger actually exists, rather like us Americans living our day-to-day lives in the paradise this great country is because every second our military offers us total protection from the harsh realities of the countries that hate us and want to destroy us, like the socialists/communists in America today trying to do just that. When Marvin tells Frank, "You haven't killed anyone in months," Frank replies, "That's a positive thing!" and on the surface, we think it would be, however, the harsh reality comes out: if you haven't killed your enemies, your enemies are going to kill you, and that's exactly what happens. In other words, Frank has been so busy "home-making" for Sarah, he has forgotten to protect her by taking out their enemies, and not having done that, he's viewed as a "patsy" and linked to the nightshade operation because no one's afraid of laying the blame at his door.
The machine gun standing on its butt mirrors the strong vertical structures of the champagne glass, the black and red window divider behind the couch, and the buildings in the skyline behind Katja; the window divides the outside from the inside; why? That black and red dividing line in the middle of the image divides the old Russia on the right (the Kremlin) from the new Russia of business on the left, and Katja's body is part on one side--her legs in the old Russia, and mind in the new Russia--and part on the other; why? Feet symbolize the will, because they take us where we want to go in life, and what is Katja's instinct when it comes to her will? "Follow orders," which is a typical, "Old Russia" response because that's who communism works. On the other hand, she thinks like a modern woman in wanting to save the world for the benefit of humanity, not just get a bomb for the Russian government. We could talk about this more, however, the post is all ready longer than I anticipated, but there is a glass wall separating the inside of the apartment from the outside, and we might "reflect" that, on the inside, Katja wants a good life of luxury (the big couch and champagne) but on the outside, she wants to be the good "Comrade General."
There are two additional features to Sarah substantiating her role as America the innocent and pure: she's from Kansas and, as she says, "No one ever called me Frank Moses' kryptonite." Her being from Kansas invokes someone else from Kansas: Superman (Henry Cavill). At the end of Man Of Steel, Clark Kent tells the general, "I'm from Kansas, I'm about as American as you can get," and this is probably a great indication of why Sarah's character is from Kansas as well because she's supposed to convey the heartland image of the "motherland" of America and the characteristics of America Frank loves so well (I like for you to know my biases as I write these posts because who we are always flavors our reading of art; I have lived in Kansas nearly my entire life, however, I wouldn't be mentioning this point about Sarah unless we had all ready been introduced to it through Man Of Steel which I think the RED 2 film makers consciously wants us to consider just as they were employing "kemosabe" to make us think of The Lone Ranger: great art always invokes other art, and RED 2 wants us to think of other Kansans [Superman] to expand the frame of reference for the film). 
Again, frames and windows. How can we say Edward Bailey is a monster? Not only because he calls himself that, but because the very luxury we see him enjoying in this scene (he mentions dinner and the opera when Frank and Victoria first see him in his cell) is what he wants for himself but won't allow anyone else. Edward Bailey claims his motivation for wanting the red mercury bomb to explode is revenge for the death of his wife and son, but isn't his entire career spent thinking of ways to take the lives of women, children, husbands, fathers, brothers? Even though he's referred to as "the DaVinci of death," Bailey is a one-track man unable to "reflect" on what's right the way Frank Moses encourages everyone to do who joins him to stop Bailey. Bailey has appetites (like his desire to smoke his pipe and eat the dinner above) but his genius for killing people won't allow anyone else to enjoy what he wants for himself. Why is he only "half" in handcuffs? When the British government put him on ICE (incarcerated cannot execute) sure, they locked him up, but failed to get the bomb or help him turn from the temptations of setting the bomb off, so he's only "half" secured because when Frank and Vitoria come to see him, he slips out of his cell, indicating he was never really secure. When Bailey has set off the nerve gas in the plane, and confronts Jack about his betrayal, Jack utters, "Jesus," and Bailey responds, "Yes, that's a sad, old word you know," and this is perhaps (besides Marvin blessing himself when Katja dies) the most interesting religious reference the film makes, because we know Bailey is a monster who wants the destruction of humanity calling the Name of Jesus "sad" and "old," not a name, but a "word." Why? Because Bailey cannot eve begin to understand what Jesus means or what He taught.
Sarah complaining to Marvin that, "No one ever called me Frank Moses' kryptonite," invites us to examine how Sarah is NOT Frank Moses' kryptonite. Kryptonite is NOT mentioned in this year's blockbuster Man Of Steel, rather, it hearkens back to the days of Lex Luther and the Superman of 1978. Kryptonite is a radioactive material from Superman's home Krypton and is his Achilles' Heel, weakening him when nothing else can; like Superman, the "Golden Warrior" Frank Moses (as Edward Bailey describes him) has a natural weakness but if he's weak, he can't save the world, and that's what Katja is to Frank: assured self-destruction.
On the other hand,...  
Sarah's light-colored trench coat conflicts with the dark colors both Katja and Frank wear; why? That's Sarah's whole character, the reason Frank loves her and needs her, she's not "dark" like Katja and himself. Whereas the chest area of Sarah's coat covers her, the chest area of Katja is exposed; Katja makes an open show of her affections for Frank, but Sarah keeps more to herself (especially as her arms are crossed over her chest). In spite of being dressed like Katja, it's Sarah that Frank sits so closely beside, not wanting to lose her. Frank wears a gray shirt underneath because gray is the color of the pilgrim: Frank isn't in Paris sight-seeing or shopping, in Russia visiting old friends, or in London to eat; he's remembering the bad things that happened during the Cold War and trying to right what was wronged. During most of her scenes, just as Victoria wears fur, so Katja wears hats. Sitting atop our heads, where our thinking takes place, hats can symbolize either the types of thoughts we are having, or that we are keeping our thoughts to ourselves, usually a sign of duplicity or not letting someone else know the full measure of our thoughts or intentions (like Katja not letting Frank know about being so loyal to the Russian government then taking the key; when she's decided to really help Frank, she's not wearing a hat, signifying that she can be trusted).
We can say Sarah, too, is Frank's destruction because in his valiant effort to protect her, he forgot everything else to make her happy (Again, "The best never rest," but he has rested with Sarah) which is the reason why Frank ignores Marvin's warnings two times to join him on a mission, Frank wants to stay with Sarah. On the other hand, Sarah's innocence and not being an agent or operative is what gives Frank strength and a purpose, a genuine reason to do what has to be done, so Sarah isn't Frank Moses kryptonite, Sarah is Frank's strength and total happiness. How can we be so sure? Because the film shows us the opposite of this truth in Edward Bailey.
Usually, a bed is the place where sex takes place which is the creative act leading to life; the guns piled upon the bed in this scene (which actually takes place in the film) resonate death. Further, people usually sleep with the one who means the most to them, but it's his guns that mean the most to Han, taking the place of human relationships like with Bailey. At the end of the bed are the two bags, like Marvin's backpack, symbolizing that Han, indeed, has "baggage" he needs to deal with. That Han possesses a double motive for killing Frank--because of how Frank betrayed him and the money he will get from the kill--it's even more important that the Korean Han chooses to help Frank instead of kill him and demonstrates the importance of Frank's leadership in bringing the group together in a united effort and for a much greater good. 
Please remember, first, that Bailey claims, because his wife and child were destroyed, he wants to see the red mercury bomb go off; in other words, not having anyone he loves to protect (the way Frank has Sarah) he doesn't care what happens to anyone. Secondly, whereas Frank has the genuine relationship with Sarah--even if there are problems--and Frank's love for Sarah and the world moves him to act in a manner to save the world, Bailey's lack of real relationships with anyone (remember, he was talking to no one when Frank and Victoria find him in his cell) causes Bailey to move relationships and his own actions to a theoretical scale, a plane of pure thought with no emotion, hence the reason he makes everything he does out to be a game ("I bet you didn't see that coming," and "I didn't see that coming," is like the keeping of a scorecard, especially when Bailey holds Sarah hostage and Frank gets on the plane, Bailey says, "We've reached a stalemate" referencing chess, like the game between Moriarty and Holmes in Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows). We could say Bailey was, like Han, a monster who was created, but he was probably always like this and just needed the right excuse to carry out his evil genius to "the proper conclusion" of building a bomb he would then want to explode.
So, now, "emotions" in the film,... 
This is the scene when Frank convinces Katja to ditch Russia and help them save the world, and she's not wearing a hat, she's revealing her true thoughts. Now, a character never dies in a work of art unless they are all ready dead (Sarah asking if they could just kill her earlier reveals that Sarah all ready knew Katja was dead). Why does Katja die? She's enough of a modern woman, but she's still "Comrade General," or a communist deep-down inside who hasn't fully made the conversion to the modern world and capitalism. Being the dark, smouldering femme fatale she is, even though Sarah thinks she herself is the one at a disadvantage, it's Katja because Katja's kryptonite/radioactive, not a source of strength for Frank or anyone else.
Marvin emphasizes that Frank needs to "make the run to emotional security," and Frank finally does that. Why is this important? It's not just for Frank, but for all of us; it's not just in our relationships, but in national security and policies as well. In both Bailey (who looks at everything as either a game or in terms of death) and Katja who prefers orders to emotions or morality, and even Han who only really cares about how much money he gets and his plane, Frank has to embrace his emotions because emotions are what makes us human; not having emotions, or suffocating our emotions, or stifling our emotional needs turns us into,... dare I say it?,... "zombies." (Yes, I am directly countering World War Z that wants to claim anyone who loves the Constitution or other people are zombies). Our strength as Americans come from our emotions, our humanity, our love of being human and not being afraid of being "silly," wrong, or making mistakes. And we have seen this before in at least two places: Emperor (Tommy Lee Jones) when the Japanese soldiers' "perfections" are compared to the undisciplined behavior of the American soldiers and, once again, in Man Of Steel, when General Zod (Michael Shannon) tells Clark Kent he was trained to be a warrior, but Clark was "raised on a farm." Because Clark was raised on a farm, he learned the most difficult of lessons for humans: how to NOT become an animal, which is exactly what Zod is (the Japanese General in Emperor said the Japanese soldiers lost their humanity  the War) and what Edward Bailey is.
One of the only scenes when she doesn't wear fur. Victoria is wearing the stocking hat when she steps out in front of Frank's and Marvin's jeep, possibly ready to kill them; they don't know what she's thinking, about taking the contract, so she wears the hat to communicate that to us. But this is also part of Victoria she keeps hidden from others, and comes out just a few seconds before they believe the red mercury bomb is to go off, and she tells Marvin, "Put your arms around me," because Victoria doesn't like being alone and while she's strong, she's also emotional and needs human relationships even though she's also a killer. The biggest reason I was so concerned regarding RED 2 was the debate over our traditional allies, England, and how some films, such as Oblivion and even Star Trek Into Darkness, suggest that England's increasing trend of socialising the country is deadly to America because people here see England becoming socialist and use that to justify America becoming socialist; further, Russia is more our ally because they have committed themselves more to capitalism and we need to help them build up their economies so ur shared trade will insure peace, not nukes and misiles. RED 2, however, with Victoria protecting Frank and helping him, and Katja dying, definitely supports the more traditional international allegiance with which we are familiar.
One last item,...
Why are the flowers in Frank's garden yellow? When Frank needs to know if he can trust Katja, he asks her a validity question to see if she had really gone by his house years earlier and questions her about the color of the flowers in his front yard and she correctly answers they were yellow. In the language of flowers, yellow means friendship (although just the color yellow symbolizes different things) and that statement in Frank Moses' front yard--the statement of the US in our international policy--is that of friendship: we don't start wars, we defend the rights of others and will go where there is all ready a fight, but we didn't start World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the War on Terror, etc., others started those; we want peace for all, just as we want it for ourselves, but we know there is a price for freedom, but it's a price worth paying. Just as Frank was minding his own business, and didn't launch the nightshade operation, so America didn't start this war; just as Frank doesn't back down from the fight, so America shouldn't back down from the fight either, although you wouldn't know that by Obama's policies.
Frank can play all the games, on any level. When Bailey lets Sarah go in this scene, he tells her to "Go to your golden warrior," and the irony is, Bailey's right, Frank is now the "golden warrior" because he has done everything perfectly, from figuring out how he's being framed, to trusting others, not taking revenge, but sparing others so they can help him and growing emotionally in the direction Sarah needs him; Frank has done all things well which he was supposed to accomplish, whereas Bailey hasn't done anything well.
This turned out to be a far longer post than I intended and I apologize; yet there is still more in the film that can be mined, I only scratched the surface. RED 2 is a silly film, however, the silliness is meant as a targeted response to propositions that we need to become inhuman and abandon our emotions so we can be "stronger" and "perfect" (like Seneg in World War Z and Cypher [Will Smith] in After Earth). Like the characters in the film, America has a dark side, but without the dark, we wouldn't be able to see the value of the gold and not take it for granted.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Frank's leadership and confidence is so strong, he let's Han make the decision to join and recognizes he needs Han's help. This not only helps them save the world, as well as Frank himself, but brings out the best in Han, who then helps to bring out the best in the other characters (like trusting Sarah to follow through with a critical part of their plan). This "potential tapping" is what we see also in Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, Fast and Furious 6, Moneyball, Man Of Steel, After Earth, The Internship, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, etc., countering the idea of General Zod in Man Of Steel that humanity is totally expendable, and the same idea presented in World War Z.