The Expendables should have been one of the greatest action films of our time. With Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgreen, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews and Mickey Rourke rubbing shoulders together along with cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, it shouldn’t have failed to deliver. But with a crummy plot, mediocre action and too much time on just Stallone and Statham the film ended up showing that these heroes are relics of the past. The Expendables 2 is an apology. And apology which blows up in your face. Yippeekayay!
The Expendables 2 still has a flimsy plot; a new member is murdered by the rather insane Van Damme who is after some Plutonium hidden in a mine. The Expendables crew vow to get their revenge, and so they fight their way through a load of bad guys to get to him. Very little time is spent not killing, and when they aren’t they’re throwing cheesy one liners at each other. It feels like an action film from the 80’s now the film isn’t taking itself seriously and it excels because of this. The stellar beefcake cast actually work well together now they’re doing what they know best and the kills grow increasingly creative as they go. From heads being sniped off to Arnie and Bruce Willis mowing down enemies in a SMART car, it pushes for the absurd. Lundgren is particularly hilarious as he always appears to have something worth saying while he looks a little sedated. He enjoys throwing chickens and dreams of eating baby seals. Throw in a killer cameo appearance from the mighty Chuck Norris and a villain worth hating and this ends up having everything the original did not.
The film still doesn’t match those 80’s classics as it relies on them too much to offer up some of the thrills. Old action movie quotes are used, and while it is exhilarating to see all these guys working together, there is never that essence of tension. Not once will you think ‘how are they going to get out of this one?’ and instead the crew waltz through each encounter like an army of Terminators would. The new female member Nan Yu as Maggie feels largely pointless too, included just to have some eye candy on-screen. At least she doesn’t play the damsel in distress and gets to kick a little bit of ass. But not too much, that’s for the muscle men it seems. Though when you have Arnie actually walking around and doing something in a film for god knows how long, all the problems are pushed to the back of the mind. He isn’t just gunning for President this time round.
All it took was for Stallone to let someone else help with the workload and now we have a summer action flick which makes these classic heroes have another chance to shine. And shoot more people in the face. Stallone still talks out the side of his face though. ‘Mrmrrmmrrm!’ Yeah alright, Stallone.