Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Red 2 and the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test, which asks whether a movie shows two women talking to each other about something besides a relationship, offers one quick way of assessing whether a movie gives female characters a fair showing. Red 2, an action movie about a bunch of "retired, extremely dangerous" operatives, fails it, but in a really interesting way that looks to me like an unusual sort of success.

In Red 2, I didn't notice any female characters talking to each other about anything besides a relationship, but the male characters do exactly the same thing. Just about every private conversation between characters in the movie turns into an exchange of relationship advice, because the movie centers on the romantic relationship between main character Frank Moses and his girlfriend, Sara. In a lot of ways, the action feels like window dressing for this relationship.

I think the Bechdel Test reveals the many ways in which fiction often presents a woman's world as smaller than a man's. In Red 2, however, a man's world is just the same size, just as concerned with domestic affairs above all else. That's a nice way to fail the Bechdel Test.

In other news, I love this movie, as well as the original. It also has some great female characters--my particular favorite being Helen Mirren's Victoria, who can shoot a sniper rifle and create a flower arrangement with equal facility.

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