Expendables 2 Review

**This is the first review from returning contributor, Kaz. Over the next few paragraphs, gives you the skinny on The Expendables 2. If you want to let us know what you think about the film, please leave a comment below. Welcome aboard, Kaz!**

Remember the 80’s? Remember the likes of Commando, First Blood, Rambo, Bloodsport, Die Hard etc etc? These were the super hero movies of their time. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, these guys, they were the heroes of the big screen. Yes, acting ability was incredibly limited, but, if a studio wanted a big box office smash, one of the above (bar Van Damme, who dropped into b-movie mediocrity after Universal Soldier) had to be on the billing. The films were cheesy nonsense, one man against an army who couldn’t hit a mountain if it was sitting right in front of them, where the heroes could take cover behind a paper bag and bullets would just be absorbed into them, where every time a hero was shot, it was just a flesh wound.

Well, those days are now back it seems, and I’m not sure how to take it. Did I enjoy the movie? Hell yes, it is a testosterone filled action extravaganza! But it is also a little silly. Let’s get the bad bits out of the way first. One, Dolph Lundgren, you are not funny, in fact, Sylvester Stallone is made to look like Steve Carell in comparison. Some of the blood is so obviously CGI, it’s as if they got to the editing room, thought, hey, the blood packs just didn’t shout ‘WOW!’ enough, so lets paint some more! It looks fake, it is fake and takes away a tiny bit from the action. The acting, yes, it is horrid, I cringed at many a line. The story? What story, it is such a simple revenge and save the world plot that spending too much time pondering the holes, nay, the epic craters in it would probably take you until the end of time.

You wanted mayhem? You got it. Maybe too much of it.

No, this is one of those movies where you forget all of that, it’s one of those movies where you switch off, and just soak in the mayhem, and boy, does this movie deliver mayhem! Right from the off you are taken into an intense battle, with tributes to action and war in plain view, like Bad Attitude emblazoned onto one of the vehicles, Shock & Awe on another, and then ‘Knock Knock’ on a battering ram, all working to render a little chuckle, a smile as these machines do their work and destroy everything. There are extended cameos aplenty, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger being the most notable. Arnie making a surprise early appearance in the explosive opening sequence. I mention the opening again only to emphasise the impact of it. I do not think I’ve seen a more action fest start to a movie, it is truly relentless, I watched this on the Xtreme screen at Vue Westfields, and the sound system there really hammered the impact of every bullet through the air.

Notice how only complimentary things are said about Chuck Norris throughout this article. This is because we fear Chuck Norris.

Once they reach their target, the escape is equally impressive, with our heroes again magically being able to dodge bullets Martian Manhunter style, you then meet Liam Hemsworth’s character, ‘Billy The Kid’, expert sniper, and very impressive he is too, it was just like Unreal Tournament, with all the head shots, combined with a Modern Warfare background. They complete the mission with a little setup for later where Arnie says ‘I hate owing you’, an obvious plant for his reappearance in the closing acts. But again, who cares, we want more Arnie, if you don’t, this movie is not for you.

Sadly, this first mission sees the end of Jet Li’s contribution, as they drop their package over China, along goes Jet Li, never to be seen again, which is a shame as I was so hoping to see him take on the villain of the piece, Van Damme in a martial arts show down.

The team return to home soil, for a very brief respite before Bruce Willis turns up with the main mission of the movie. They have to retrieve a case from a downed plane, and they are forced to take a newcomer with them, Maggie, played by martial artist come actress Nan Yu, the sceptic in me says she was only brought in to handle the parts Jet Li didn’t want to do, but hey ho, she slots into the team as one of the token members, and is pretty much treated as such most of the way through.

Once they get to the crashed plane and retrieve the case, they are ambushed by Van Damme’s character, Jean Vilain (yes, Vilain,  not Villain, if ever a surname said bad guy, this is it). Vilain promptly ends Liam Hemsworth’s participation, angering the rest of the team as well as humiliating them. But then the mind is thinking, why didn’t these guys do an obvious sweep of the area first before walking into this? Ugh, must stop thinking!!

With the case now in enemy hands, and the death of a team member, Stallone is asked, “What’s the plan?” No A-Team elaboration here though, the reply was to the point, “Find ’em. Track ’em. Kill ’em”…………. yes, I did wonder too if finding and tracking were the erm……same thing. Anyway, again, who cares!!

It’s revealed that the case contains the location of quite a lot of weapons grade plutonium, left over from the cold war. Vilain wants to sell to the highest bidder and goes about his ways in true movie villain fashion, really living up to the character name. I did worry about his sometimes mind, his face is so stiff that every time he spoke, I thought his skin would crack.

Despite all of the character, this vehicle really only has two drivers, Stallone and Statham, who drive this movie forward. Everyone else is secondary, but it doesn’t matter too much. Bruce Willis gets an extended role and dishes out some mayhem, and the quips between himself and Arnie are welcome, cheesy, but welcome. They share a lot of poking fun at each others past movies, and do so in such a tongue in cheek obvious fashion that you can’t help but groan with a smile.

Terry Crews is very good at looking angry

To sum it up, this movie is what the first should have been. I think Simon West taking the reigns has helped here. I enjoyed Expendables 2 immensely, it was a great switch off the brain fun movie, full of explosive action. With many nods to the action movies of the past, and an 80’s child dream cast. Could they pull it off for a 3rd movie? Perhaps, but if they ended it here, it would be on a high. I doubt they will though, as this is now a franchise with all of the logos, belt buckles, big rings, I can see this running for a while. But will Stallone be able to carry it on? He’s already 66 (although he far from looks it) and with the rest of the cast ageing, who knows? For now, enjoy what they have delivered.

So, back to my earlier question, how do I take the 80’s action romp return? I take it with an ‘I’ll be back’ smile, mixed in with some ‘Yippee Ka Yay’!

KM

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