Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his elite team of mercenaries called the Expendables are back in action, with their latest mission pitting them against a group of heavily armed kidnappers to rescue a Chinese businessman. After they complete the mission and head out for some R&R, Ross is once again encountered by Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) for a new mission. -summary
OK... I know I wasn't drunk. The bud ashes are easily about 5 hours old, and the nose candy has been retired for quite some time. Therefore, I was completely in my right mind when I saw this, so if anyone thinks I missed the mark and this movie is actually total trash, then maybe I'm suffering from some bad after effects because I enjoyed this sequel. The original Expendables
featured an ensemble all-star cast of the greatest action stars ever. It was meant to be the action flick of all action flicks, and a throwback to 80's testosterone-filled macho-bullshit gun toting mayhem. For many reasons it really didn't feel that way and the end result was a very bland flick that would make Uwe Boll scream "awesome!". This sequel on the other hand is the action movie the original should have been. Now do I consider it one of the greatest action flicks ever made? Well, not at all, not even close, but it's a step in the right direction should Sly decide to increase the number count. Directed by Simon West (Con Air), the Expendables 2 (2012) features the returning cast and makes mindless storytelling fun again, at least for awhile anyway.
The action scenes are definitely a step up with an opening scene that blows away everything found in its predecessor. It gets better too, as the final scene ups the tempo with cool and cheesy lines galore, with some of those lines receiving a nice little twist. It was actually fun this time to see Arnie, Willis, Sly, Statham, and even Van Damme just hamming it up with the acting. The shoot outs and car crashes had a nice bit of imagination with even one poor bastard winning the wet T-shirt contest. The fisticuffs were better edited, thus, cooler to watch this time. Statham busts out the knife fighting moves in quick combat, plus Van Damme appears to still be in some great shape delivering those spin kicks.
The plot is very simple and easy to follow. Ross is given a mission to venture into Albania to a plane crash site and retrieve a briefcase. Another outfit appears and one of Ross' men is predictably offed. From there it's, "you killed my friend, now your ass is mine." Your basic revenge tale with something random tossed out there leading up to the final hand to hand beat half to death ending.
The original movie as flawed as it was did lay out the ground work I will admit, and this sequel expands on it very well. There's a decent amount of character development through buddy bonding moments, and the cast is given some type of personality. There's more of a balance too, with Stallone and Statham not hogging the spotlight as much as last time. Most of the cast were able to hold their own. Hell, even Chuck Norris at the age of 72 was nice to see no matter how corny he may have appeared, and Van Damme was a good choice for a villain, not because he was awesome or anything like that. You just knew that the ending battle was going to be worth it given his physical skill. The only real flaws I can think of is that the new member to the group Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) should have had gimmick stamped to his forehead. I mean his fate couldn't have been anymore obvious. Plus Jet Li fans will be let down knowing that he disappears from the movie not to be seen again. Thankfully he delivers a decent enough action performance.
The Expendables 2 is like a well disciplined solider. It's given a mission and it sets out for it never straying from the written in stone path. There are no misplaced themes or attempts at high art. It's straight up kicking bubble gum and chewing ass with corny lines and eye rolling deus ex machina. I don't think it's possible that I was so disappointed with the original that I may like this more than I should, because my mind just doesn't work like that. I really had a good time with this one, and I feel like revisiting more action flicks. If this sounds like your type of movie then chances are it is. If you despised the original then there's a chance you may enjoy this one. It really is better, but to some people that may not be saying much at all. Pros:
-Better action and more fun than original
-Doesn't exactly break any new ground, way too predictable