The Expendables 2 is in theaters now, and just like its predecessor it promises explosions, plenty of killing, and tons of action. And oh yeah, almost every major action star of the past 30 years. The original was a throwback to the mindless violence soaked action films that made most of the actors stars, and this one tries to up the intensity level. But how does it do? Is it a blood splattered action fest, or should the actors have stayed in obscurity?
If you’ve seen any of the trailers for the film, any commercials, hell, even if you’ve seen the first film, you’ll know what your in for. The film centers around Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, the leader of a mercenary team called The Expendables. The team is made up of b-list action stars (Terry Crews, Randy Couture), washed up action stars of years past (Dolph Lundgren) and a good mix of slightly more relevant actors (Jason Statham, Jet Li). They get deployed on a mission, things go wrong, and the team is out for revenge. Pretty straight forward action fare. Then again, this franchise isn’t trying to reinvent the genre. As a throwback to the 80’s action films, they really kept the plot pretty easy to follow and straight ahead. It works, and works well. There’s no twists and turns, there’s no big surprise backstabbing, and its easy to follow. You know who the villain is, you know where he’s going and what he’s doing, and his motivation is right out in the open. This is a film that literally takes almost no thinking to watch, and its a nice change.
The actors are really an odd point in the movie though. Most of them aren’t very well known for being great actors, and in some cases are known for the opposite. (I’m looking at you, Stallone. I remember Demolition Man.) But it works. The writers really tried to keep emotion to a minimum, and really made their shortcomings work for the film. While no one is going to win any academy awards for their roles, it gets the job done with minimum amounts of cheese. The real treat with all these actors coming together is the writers and the actors just having fun with their parts. There’s so many references to the actors other works, so many mixed up one liners, and so many nods to other films that I could probably see it a couple more times and pick up on new ones every time. Some scenes almost seem like they forgot they were making a legitimate action film and feel like a parody, but it’s still well done, and it’s a good change of pace for the film. Pretty much whenever Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis are on screen together, expect hilarity.
As the frosting on the testosterone soaked cake, if you though the violence and body count of the first film was good, then this one will make you pop a vein in you’re forehead. The film kicks off with a very well done assault on a military held town to rescue an Asian billionaire, and the bodies just keep stacking up from there. There is a nice variety this go round though, from shooting people from ziplines, to shooting people on a boat, to shooting people at an airport. The action never seems repetitive, and its always interesting to see just what they’re going to do next. And the climax fight 30 years in the making is a highlight of the film. Of course you know whose going to come out on top, but it’s still fun as hell to watch.
All in all, if you liked the first film, you’ll love the hell out of this one. If you like a good action flick that doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking, you’ll love it. If you like gratuitous violence with a dash of awesome one liners, than you wont find a better film this year. If you thought the first one was ok short of the plot and how boring it got, then give this one a chance. It completely flips every action movie that’s come out this year so far on its ass, and laughs in its face. It doesn’t require thinking, it requires that you enjoy it. Bottom line, with enough explosions to make Micheal Bay blush, more guns and one liners than every other movie this year combined, and a handful of washed up action stars this is a great flick. If you can’t enjoy a flick like this, you’re truly too jaded to enjoy anything anymore.