Do you like big guns? Do you like 'splosions? What about really big guns? Wait, I said that already. How about bad guys that can't shoot for shit? Do you like testosterone fueled madness? If you answered 'yes', then The Expendables 2 is the movie for you. The Expendables 2 delivers on the promise that The Expendables didn't. It's a blast from the past, combing all the actors and elements you used to love about 80's action films. Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the gang are back, and they're here to blow you up!
The story is typical action fare. Ross is contacted by Church (Bruce Willis) to do 'one last job' and then they're finally even. However, things go wrong, there's weapons of mass destruction involved, and now it's up them to fix it. To add motivation, the youngest and newest member of the team dies in the process (sorry Liam Hemsworth), and of course, this was going to be his last job, too. So, now they want revenge. Typical stuff, right?
Stallone wrote and directed The Expendables, but this time around, Simon West was brought in to direct. I guess you need the director of Con Air to handle the large cast and over-the-top action. The script by Stallone and Richard Wenk isn't what you'd call good, and it's not surprising that where the movie bogs down is basically any scene where there's no action. There's some really awful, and in some cases unintelligible, dialog. But to be fair, you aren't watching The Expendables 2 for great, witty dialog. You just want to see how many bad one-liners they can throw into the film. Plus, it's really hard to hate a movie that goes out of it's way to make fun of itself.
Besides the dialog, there's a lot of poor editing. They are constantly cutting between different characters and it sometimes is tough to keep track of what is going on during some of the busier action scenes. There are seemingly endless waves of bad guys coming from all directions. You'll see a guy get shot on a balcony only to see another guy pop up seconds later. Where'd that guy come from? Didn't they just get killed a second ago? Is there a bad guy dispenser hidden somewhere? It's like playing the video game 'Gauntlet' where if you don't kill the monster generator, they keep spawning.
There's not much of a point talking about the 'performances'. These guys aren't really playing roles as much as they just being life-sized action figures. You pull the string on their back and they say one of their trademark catch phrases. They try to develop a few of these guys a little bit, but it was awkward for the most part and not necessary to the plot. However, I did really enjoy Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain. I think he missed his calling not playing more bad guys in his career. He seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself, and continues the rule that it's more fun to play a bad guy.
While not as bad as the first film, there were still a few guys that were underused. Randy Couture felt like he was barely in it. Jet Li checks out after the opening scene. Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham appered to have the most to do, but Lundgren seemed like he was sleepwalking at times. Maybe that's just his demeanor these days. We also get a lot more Terry Crews and finally the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, he's back. Chuck Norris also appears as a teleporter, who had the ability to be in any place at any time. This is Chuck Norris we are talking about though. Lastly, you have Nan Yu as the techie/sorta-love interest, but I felt her character was totally flat and unnecessary. If they needed to have that character, I think it would have been better to cast that role with more of a smart ass, sarcastic type that wasn't capable of taking part of the action.
I know it might sound like I'm being hard on the film, but now we're finally at the good part. The Expendables 2 brings it in the action department. The opening scene is such a frenzy of awesomeness that I could barely contain myself. Everyone was having a good time, cheering, high-fiving each other. It slows down for a bit, but then picks up and has several scenes, including the climax that should satisfy anyone looking to have fun watching crazy action. It's über-violent and bloody, but the use of CG-blood at times kind of bugged me. It's a minor complaint though. The movie has so much testosterone in it that you probably shouldn't take a drug test for a few weeks after. Remember when you used to watch a martial arts flick as a kid and you'd leave charged up wanting to take karate? That's how I felt after The Expendables 2. I wanted to go lift heavy shit, work the heavy bag, and then drink some beer.
The Expendables 2 is dumb, loud, but most importantly, it's a lot of fun. If you're a fan of old school action films, there's a lot to like about it, and it's great to see all these guys back on the big screen together doing what they do best. It's a nice way to end your summer with a movie you can just shut your brain off and enjoy. Normally, that's a quality that I don't like to boast about, but this time I didn't mind. Get the guys together, catch a matinee, and then go do some Strongman training.
Somewhere, Steven Seagal is sitting by his phone patiently awaiting a call...
3.5 (out of 5) Death Stars