The Expendables 2 Reviewby Stephen Bourne (iamstephenbourne AT gmail DOT com)
August 19th, 2012
Review: The Expendables 2 (2012)
USA, 102 minutes, Rated 14A (ON) 13+ (QC)
Reviewed 08/12, (c) Stephen Bourne
Co-star/co-writer Sylvester Stallone hands directing duties over to Simon West for this over-the-top, pyrotechnic blood bath sequel that reunites most of the primary ensemble cast from The Explodables, uh, I mean The Expendables (2010), that was helmed and co-written by Stallone who co-starred alongside Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Mickey Roarke, with cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Roarke is noticeably absent this time around, making room for newcomers Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu as team sniper 'Billy The Kid' Timmons and tech expert Maggie respectively.
West previously directed Con Air (1997), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and The Mechanic (2011), and there's not much of a stretch here. A couple of those were great, but this is a stupid movie as Louisiana-based mercenary leader Barney Ross (Stallone) and his jolly, grizzled gang of for-hire killers end up storming through the Albanian mountainside, guns a-blazin' and teeth a-grindin', on yet another plot- unimportant mission to reignite the 80s action movie genre that offered little more than Grindhouse schlock with better production value because, apparently, it's a lot easier these days to secure $100 million budgets if the film isn't too thinky and just regurgitates a lot of the same dialogue- impaired, glorified violence moviegoers sat through decades ago.
In The Expendables 2, Richard Wenk and Stallone's unabashedly paper-thin screenplay has this motley band of self-made caricatures seeking cold vengeance and saving the world from supposed nuclear annihilation by hunting down a brutal villain stupidly named Vilain (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) and gleefully chewing out moldy one-liners while picking off vast populations of faceless militia men like they're an endless supply of blood bag pinatas.
Judging from the unimaginably enormous amount of ammo and shrapnel punched into that small patch of Eastern Europe by these "good guys", it's tough not to imagine Ross wanting to let bygones be bygones and give Vilain lots of high fives and belly rubs if he was merely a simple, megalomaniacal arms dealer selling barrels o' bullets at bargain basement prices who murdered Ross' comrade but was disinterested in selling five tons of weapons grade plutonium to the highest bidder. Whoa you done me bad, gimme more ammo and don't kill my bud again, bro...
Switch off your brain, it's a big gruesome and noisy video game that's completely bereft of believable morality or purposely developed characters beyond whatever on-screen charisma these visibly tired actors bring to the table while collecting a ridiculously easy paycheque. Word is, the recently released The Expendables 2 game actually runs as a four-player shoot-em-up prequel to this big screen sequel. You can see that game's trailer on this movie's official website, as well as find a fairly strange "Field Guide Dedicated to the Destruction of The Expendables" and a rather goofy Don't Press The Button video promo featuring Lundgren and Crews there. Just go to
Weirder still, go to the Canadian official website at http://www.trackfindkill.ca/ and you can enter to win a Broil King Regal Deluxe barbeque, a 47 inch Toshiba HDTV, or a gift card from Pizza Pizza or M&M Meat Shops. WTF. Figure that out for yourself, I'm clearly not smart enough to see the connection.
Sure, gore and goofiness aside, The Expendables 2 is entertaining for the sheer novelty of seeing Stallone, Lundgren, Willis and Schwarzenegger relive much of the dim-witted, consequence-free high octane action that made them famous at the box office years ago in a newly made movie. It's a kick watching Van Damme and Chuck Norris working opposite these guys in this man child machismo Dream Team fantasy. Although pushed to the limits of tolerance at times, the self-parody is also reasonably fun throughout.
That's really the whole point of The Expendables 2: Fun. It's not the hollow story, it's worthless. It's not about you tapping into whatever passes for acting here. It has nothing to do with adding something different or clever to that filmic genre for contemporary, post-9/11 ticket holders. It's simply a star-studded monster truck jamboree of might-is-right summer mayhem reminding you of all those 80s action movies that are better than this offering but stand as little more than guilty pleasure, groan-inducing punch lines in the relatively recent history of American Cinema. I guess that's fun. For some.
If that's what you want, that's what you'll pay for. If you miss the 80s stuff, well, save your cash by digging out your VCR and just watch the 80s stuff again. If you want a memorably good movie that's actually worth the effort and budget poured into it, yeah, steer clear of The Expendables 2. Reviewed 08/12, (c) Stephen Bourne
The Expendables 2 is rated 14A by the Ontario Film Review Board for use of expletives, tobacco use, and violent acts shown in clear, unequivocal and realistic detail with blood and tissue damage, and is rated 13+ by la Regie du Cinema in Quebec.
Tags: Movie review, Stephen Bourne, moviequips
Tags: The Expendables 2, Stallone, Statham, Schwarzenegger
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