The Expendables 2 – Review15.08.12 # Review # 6 Comments
Our The Expendables 2 Review.
Director: Simon West
Starring: Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Van Damme, Crews, Norris, Willis, Schwarzenegger
Release Date: UK – Thursday / US – Friday
There were early internet rumours suggesting The Expendables 2 would wuss out of an R Rating in favour of a PG-13 certificate. Thankfully, this proved untrue. With Arnie and Bruce returning to the cast in meatier roles, and Jean-Claude Van Damme now in the mix, The Expendables 2 promises to be bigger, better and bloodier than ever. It’s hard to argue they don’t live up to that.
Arnie is given his grand return to the screen in an electric action opening, where the Expendables are finishing up their latest mission. Barney Ross (Stallone), Lee Christmas (Statham), Gunnar (Lundgren), and co are joined by fresh-faced army sniper Billy ‘The Kid’ (Hemsworth) in blowing stuff up and shooting people in the face (I think they were rescuing a billionaire of something).
Upon their return, Bruce Willis’ Mr Church sends them off on a mission to ‘make them even’ – recovering the contents of a safe from a downed plane in Bulgaria, where they will also be joined by sexy Chinese agent Maggie, much to the snarls of Sly.
But when they’re ambushed by none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme (he’s called ‘Jean Vilain’!) and his sinister party of rival mercenaries, the mission goes to hell. Soon Sly is ignoring Church’s command and on the hunt for ‘Vilain’ to extract his revenge. Van Damme absolutely shines, strutting around a mine wearing his swag sunglasses and designer coat; the hallmarks of a criminal mastermind if there ever was one.
When the movie tries to go deep and emotional, it’s hilarious. Take Sly opening up about a teammates’s death, it’s difficult to tell if it’s meant to be heartfelt or not – and as the next of kin is handed belongings and an enclosed photograph… its borderline spoof.
Of course such trivial matters as ‘characterisation’ and ‘plot’ play second fiddle to the cast revelling in the glory days of their careers. There are dialogue nods to Arnie’s back catalogue especially (play the “I’ll Be Back” drinking game), including a delightful swapping of catchphrases between Arnie and Bruce during a shootout, which is as good as it sounds.
It has to be said, there is a LOT of filler. The Expendables gang love a bit of banter between laying waste to Van Damme’s henchmen, mostly making fun of Randy Couture’s ears (who is basically a prop after all). Gunnar muffles something about not having much luck with the ladies, staking a claim to rival Bane for this summer’s most incomprehensible speech.
With his name and face plastered over all the pre-publicity, it’s a bit bizarre Jet Li only gets about five minutes screen time, which pretty much epitomises the ‘thanks for turning out’ mantra. It’s difficult to juggle such ensembles, even in this post-Avengers era, and it’s this element that’s obviously the main selling point.
Of course you all noticed Chuck Norris’ name on the poster too, and his cameos are a testament to a man who has officially evolved beyond parody of himself. “Is it true you were bitten by a Cobra?” asks Sly. “Yes, but after five days of agonising pain… the Cobra died.”
The Expendables 2 really is wonderfully ridiculous entertainment, and genuinely great fun. There’s probably room for one more great action set piece, but we’ll let them off because they’re knocking on a bit… As Sly says himself in a big juicy metaphor: “That thing belongs in a museum”, “We all do” quips a beaming Arnie. Brilliant.