Review: The Expendables 2

Directed by: Simon West.

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Nan Yu.

Rating:   Running Time: 102 mins.

The team of mercenaries from the first movie return, led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) with an additional new recruit in the form of sniper Bill the Kid (Liam Hemsworth – younger brother of Thor actor Chris), who proves himself during the movie’s explosive opening mission where the team rescue a Chinese billionaire from a group of terrorists. After returning to the States, the group celebrates in a bar while Ross returns to his plane where he is met by the returning Mr Church (Bruce Willis) who still holds a grudge towards him and his team for taking the $5 million payment and making a complete mess of the job he sent them on in the previous movie.

He tells them that he’ll consider them even if Ross and his team go on another mission to recover something from a downed Chinese cargo plane, taking a specialist of his – Maggie (Nan Yu) along with them to ensure recovery of the cargo. When the team is ambushed on the mission by a mercenary army led by Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), he steals the cargo and escapes, killing one of Ross’ team in the progress. When Maggie explains that the cargo is actually a map to a storage of fifteen pounds of weapons grade plutonium, Ross and the team set out to find Vilain and not only stop him from selling it on the black market, but to get revenge for their fallen comrade.

The first expendables movie was an intentional throwback to the action movies of the 80’s, with the cast including both classic action stars of the 80’s as well as some modern day MMA-type fighters turned actors. It was loud, action packed, and though fun, was a slightly disappointing ‘does what it says on the box’ movie and there’s more of that here with the opening 10-15 minutes being the first of several no-holds-barred action sequences involving some great stunt driving, bone crunching fight sequences, riddled with shootouts and with the both the action and volume turned up to 11.

Sylvester Stallone who both starred and directed the previous movie returns purely in an acting role here, with the reigns being handed over to veteran action director Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), a move which it turns out was for the best as the sequel is not only fun, but it’s a lot more solid and competent movie than it’s predecessor. As well as the majority of the cast returning from the first movie, we have several other action movie stars as well as a few new ones. A nice touch as well is the return of composer Brian Tyler who scored the music of the first movie, here adding his bombastic style which matches the action on screen and contains the familiar themes he created for the first movie.

There’s a lot more comedy written into the movie than the last one, with some nice interplay between the characters, especially between Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis, as well as plenty of tongue in cheek references to roles from each of their respective action movies, the majority of which hit the mark and induced genuine laughs as opposed to painful groans. The cast are impressive in their action performances, none of them is trying to give a great dramatic performance, but if that’s what you’re looking for then you’re definitely looking for the wrong movie, that’s not what this is about. This is not a movie that never takes itself seriously, and neither should you.

There is one thing that really did bug me about the movie. During production, it was stated that the movie was being made with the aim of getting a lower rating than the first movie (PG-13 in the U.S. or 12A here), much to the disappointment of fans. The studio it seems listened to this, and upped the violence in the action sequences. As a result, when filming it appears an effort was made to avoid extreme gore and bloodshed, meaning that to make these sequences look realistic that the ever annoying digital blood splatters are back with a vengeance. This for me was the biggest gripe with the movie, and it will no doubt be an issue with lots of people who disliked it’s use in other similar movies.

It’s not going to win any awards, but if you’re a fan of the 80’s action blockbuster, have enjoyed the classics starring this cast like the Terminator, Die Hard or Rambo movies, and if you enjoyed the first movie but wanted more, then this is definitely one for you. A total popcorn action movie, that knows it, and knows how to poke fun at it. See it on the biggest and loudest screen you can find, sit back, switch your brain off, and prepare to enjoy yourself.

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Posted on August 17, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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