Movie Review: The Expendables 2
Pros:Huge action sequences and a heavyweight cast having great fun with it.
Cons:Still no sign of Steven Seagal.
Sylvester Stallone reunites the cast from The Expendables’ first outing in 2010 for this equally giddy action-heavy sequel.
The, well… plot (maybe plot is a bit generous; it’s really just a string of reasons to blow things up) gets going when Barney is confronted by their CIA contractor, Mr. Church, and reminded that he owes him $5 million from a previous job. Church (played by Bruce Willis, who it has to be said, is aging beautifully compared to Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s slowly melting faces) is willing to cut a deal with Barney if he takes on a new assignment in Albania for him.
There’s a catch though, in the form of Maggie (Nan Yu), a Chinese computer expert, who Church insists goes with them on their mission. Barney is not impressed with having a female on his team, seeing as women are so weak and leaky and all that, and says he’s not a babysitter. She’s a grown-ass woman who’s also a martial arts expert, by the way, but STILL, eww girls!
Things don’t quite go to plan. While the team succeed in retrieving the mysterious item they were sent for, they’re soon intercepted by an Eastern European cartel, led by Jean Vilain (Van Damme). A villain called Vilain. Again, this film is about as subtle as a roundhouse kick to the face. Vilain and his thugs force Barney to hand over the device and proceed to kill a team member in the process, in case we didn’t already cop the fact that these are Very Bad Men.
Driven by revenge, as well as the fact that the device has turned out to be a computer that holds the location of a fuck-tonne of Russian plutonium in an abandoned mine, the team go after Vilain. ‘Track ‘em. Find ‘em. Kill ‘em.’, says Barney.
The Expendables 2 is brilliant fun, while also being sort of terrible. It’s part enormous action film with a huge budget and yet somehow part B-movie. The action scenes are fantastic and ridiculous, you find yourself cheering with delight when a motorbike is sent flying into a helicopter and the entire screen explodes. However, you’ll also find yourself groaning at awful puns and the millionth ‘I’ll be back’-style reference. You could actually make a bingo card just for the character catchphrases scattered liberally throughout, as everyone from John McClane to Rambo get referenced one way or another. Which is fine on one hand, but eventually you feel like you’re being beaten over the head with it.
Jean Claude Van Damme is gleefully evil as the nefarious Vilain and a big fight sequence between him and Stallone is tremendous fun to watch. Chuck Norris pops up with his beard and the tiny eyes of a shrew to toss around some Chuck Norris facts, which might have been more enjoyable if he wasn’t such a horrific homophobe in real life.
Nan Yu is underused as Maggie and while it was good to see a woman being included in the core cast this time around after 2010’s sausage-fest, a bewildering romantic storyline between her and Stallone came off as a little weird and creepy, punctuated by a complete lack of chemistry between them. In the end though, this film is really all about fight scenes, shootouts and general carnage, all of which it pulls off marvellously.
If, like me, you enjoy big, stupid action films with ridiculous amounts of violence and Jason Statham stabbing up a storm, then you’ll have a lot of fun watching The Expendables 2.