The Expendables 2 Review
When released in 2010, The Expendables brought with it a threefold promise: a huge throwback to action movies of the 1980’s; the teaming of the genre's biggest stars: star/writer/director Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren; and the first on-screen pairing of Planet Hollywood pals Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger. The experiments worked, as the film made $260million worldwide, but while the financial success was noteworthy, it masked obvious flaws, and was ultimately not quite as good as the other sum of its parts.
For the sequel, Stallone has stepped aside from the directing chair and handed the reigns to Simon West, veteran director of Con Air, allowing The Expendables 2 a nice touch of freshness. Not that Stallone is a poor action director, far from it, but by bringing West in, he has allowed the action to grow into new strands, rather than regurgitating old tricks.
Right from the off in a loud, exploding prologue, West’s action is big in scope, heavy on casualties, but small on reality. The movie is an orgy of action set-pieces that moves at a breathtaking pace, which while looking spectacular, leaves little room for any sense of plot. But that’s not what you came for, was it? It revolves around a typically lacklustre “MacGuffin” plot involving Plutonium, for which villain JCVD wants to get his hands on, just FYI.
With the plot thin and some characters likewise (at least in terms of the story), it’s the injection of more humour from screenwriters Stallone and Richard Wenk (16 Blocks) that gives the film its real adrenaline. Aided by the obvious good time enjoyed by the company, it’s brimming with quips, one-liners and in-jokes on both the stars and their careers, the picks of which involve an WWII plane and some token revisiting of certain verses from movies past.
Said company are good value throughout: outside of the aforementioned powerhouses, who all excel, The Expendables themselves are excellent, with all of them relishing the added comedic slant to the action (Crews and Lundgren in particular impress); Van Damme, in his first major role for many years, (not including his excellent work in JCVD) has some good fun as the villain of the piece, despite the limpness of character, and his showdown with Stallone excellently staged; and the brilliant appearance of Chuck Norris, in full R-rated glory, will be sure to get the fists shaking.
But it’s the return of Schwarzenegger that will get audiences truly salivating. Given a nice dose of screen time in this one, the Terminator is well and truly back, relishing being back at what he does best, and when the three heavyweights finally share a hardcore scene together, it’s fan-boy nirvana switched up to 11.
The Expendables 2 is an all-out action treat that will get your blood-pumping for days afterwards. It's nonsensical, loud, overly indulgent and utterly ludicrous throughout, but if you're expecting it to be anything more, you've got the wrong movie. Brimming with action and humour, as well as some fantastic turns by its stellar cast, and you have this summer's most enjoyable straight-up action film. Let's hope the Eastwood/Cage/Snipes/Ford rumours joining the fun in part 3 come to pass. Expendable? Indispensable.