Monday, August 27, 2012

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Title: The Expendables 2 (2012)

Director: Simon West  

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Charisma Carpenter, Nan Yu


Are you ready for a shot of testosterone? Actually, an overdose of testosterone? Because that’s exactly what your going to get with The Expendables 2, a film with big muscle tanks, shooting and blowing up everything that comes in their paths. After all the death and destruction, they all go for a little bit of male bonding and hang out at their favorite biker bar to smoke a couple of stogies and chug down a couple of beers. This is the kind of films where if you ask a question, they’ll answer it with bullets.

This time around, there isn’t much of a story, but the basic premise goes something like this: the villainous villain named ‘Vilain’ (yup!) has found a hidden cache of plutonium worth about four million dollars. He is using the people of a small town as slaves in order to dig and recover the hidden plutonium. The Expendables are then contacted by a government official named ‘Church’ to try and stop him. This mission should be a walk in the park for them, but could Vilain end up being more of a villain than they bargained for?

So yeah, this movie put a big smile on my face for the whole damn ride. I went to see these aging action stars from the eighties blow stuff up; and they did it very well, in this aspect, the film didn’t disappoint one bit. There’s whole chunks of this film simply dedicated to machine guns being fired none stop for minutes on end. I mean, this movie gets loud! How loud? Well, in the first ten minutes of the film they blow up a helicopter, a tank, a couple of buildings and massacre god knows how many henchmen. They shoot guns, bazookas, machine guns, shot guns, you name it and it gets fired, and that’s just in the opening of the film which by the way is pretty bombastic. They really wanted to open up the film with a bang! It’s a great opening scene because all these aging action stars seem to be having the time of their lives; these characters don’t have a care in their minds, it feels as if these guys shoot their guns knowing that they are invincible.

Which is really part of the films charm, we know they aren’t going to die, we know they are going to blow everything up, beat up the bad guy, save the day and get the girl! It’s how they go about it that counts; it’s the attitude they carry while they do it that matters. In the opening sequence, The Expendables drive around this truck that has a sign that reads ‘Bad Attitude’ and that says it all right there. The fun of watching this movie is really watching these old dudes we grew up with kicking some ass and cracking jokes while doing it. Half of the fun is listening to the banter as they make fun of each other and their action star careers. One of the funniest moments has Arnold and Willis stealing each others catch phrases! Hilarious in deed. Chuck Norris got a big audience reaction when he appeared on screen, but the same happened with all of them. The first time we see Arnold, a smile creeped up on my face when he says "this is embarassing", his appearance in the film is like an unvailing, the first of many surprises to come for 80's action fans. The film grabs you from the very beginning, once you see these guys having so much fun tearing up the place, you just know this is going to be a fun ride. The 'One That Hasn't Aged So Well Award' goes to Jean-Claude Van Damme, who looks like crap when he takes off his glasses, which is probably why he wears them for a huge part of the film and in contrast,  the 'Aging Gracefully Award' goes to Dolph Lundgren, who looks pretty much the same he's always looked, but with a really funny attitude, sam as in the first film, he's character is one of the best things about this sequel. Lundgren should be making more theatrical action films in my opinion. 

He's back! Just like he always said he would! 

Story wise the film is fluffy, and when I say fluffy I mean it really doesn’t even matter. The whole business with the plutonium is just an excuse for blowing shit up; which is fine I guess. I started to wonder what a film like this one would be like if it had a more serious tone to it, but I guess it wouldn’t be what it is if it was more serious in tone. What we like about these films is the goofiness; it reminds us how silly action movies from the 80’s where and how much fun they were to watch. Ever sat down to watch Cobra (1986) or Invasion U.S.A.(1985)? These films are unintentionally hilarious; which means they weren’t made to be funny, back in the day that’s just the way action films were. These films where filled with nonsensical plot lines, indestructible heroes and huge amounts of violence. That’s what the eighties action films where all about, and that’s exactly what you get with The Expendables 2.

On the downside, Chuck Norris walks in and out of the movie in five minutes. It’s great to see him appear and make a few jokes about him being ‘The Lonewolf’ but I wish he’d been a more integral part of the film, same goes for Jet Li who is in the film only for the opening sequence, though he does have his moment to shine. I guess theres so many characters that some of them have to be sacrificed in the altar of screen time. Still, this film is bigger, louder and more explosive then the first Expendables film. I’m looking forward to the inevitable sequel, which considering how much money this ones making at the box office is a sure thing. I hear they are going to try and get Clint Eastwood and Nicholas Cage to appear in the film which would be awesome, let’s hope it happens. Steven Segal’s also been M.I.A. in this series. Also, I hope Wesley Snipes gets out of jail in time to make it for the next sequel as well, I have to say he’s been sorely missed in this series. All in all, Expendables 2 is a solid slice of 80’s style action, recommend it for a night of mindless, nostalgic fun.  

Rating: 4 out of 5


Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

I watched The Expendables again before seeing The Expendables 2 and although I enjoyed it, I still had the same problems with it that I had the first time I watched it. Mainly, I didn’t like Stallone’s direction of the shooting style; as he used too many hand-held camera shots and too many close-ups in the action sequences.

When I read that The Expendables 2 was being directed by the veteran director of Con Air (1997) Simon West, I was hopeful that it would have a more cinematic visual style. Not only did The Expendables 2 have a bigger look to it, it was bigger in just about every way! More stars, more action, more explosions and more humor!
I agree that the best part of The Expendables 2 was the banter between the old pros. You are so right about that scene with Schwarzenegger as Trench and Willis as Church stealing each other’s catch phrases: Trench says, “I'll be back.” Church says as he leaves, “You've been back enough. I'll be back.” To himself but looking into the camera Trench quips, “Yippee-ki-yay.” This is what I wanted to see in The Expendables 2!

I also loved Dolph Lundgren in this one! He was given a lot more screen time in this sequel and a lot more humorous lines. I particularly liked the way he not-so-subtly kept hitting on Nan Yu’s Maggie and kept getting shot down. The scene where they are discussing their last dinner and Gunner says (leering at Maggie) “Hey, what about me? I'd have baby seal and whale blubber. But I could really go for some Chinese.” Stratham as Lee Christmas remarks, “You gonna starve to death, mate!”

I’m not the biggest Chuck Norris fan, so his brief appearance in The Expendables 2 didn’t bother me. What was with the theme to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” playing in each of his appearances? Even as a non-fan, I got the Lone Wolf references to Norris’ 1983 film “Lone Wolf McQuade”.

I would have liked more Jet Li. Nan Yu added an interesting element. Liam Hemsworth had “red shirt” written all over him and was kinda wasted. I agree that Jean-Claude Van Damme’s plastic surgeon isn’t quite as talented as some of the others of the ageing stars, but I quite liked him as the quietly deadly villain. The fight between he and Stallone was worth the wait and even though the outcome was telegraphed, I was glad to see Van Damme get a few of his classic round-house kicks in!

As you say “Expendables 2 is a solid slice of 80’s style action, recommend it for a night of mindless, nostalgic fun.” With all the deadly serious action films post-Bourne, it’s nice to kick back and have a little mindless entertainment at the movies!

venoms5 said...

I saw this last night and posted a review, too, earlier. I wasn't so crazy about this movie. The first one is better over all in terms of cohesion. This sequel had some of the biggest plot holes I've seen. It seems more and more Hollywood movies are getting sloppy sacrificing sense and exposition for blowing stuff up every five minutes. I liked parts of it, but as a whole, it had better action, better photographed and edited action, but not a better movie.

Unknown said...

Loved the first film so this one sounds like more of the same only bigger and better. Sign me up! Can't wait to see this and relive my childhood growing up with these action stars. Man, I miss that time and that's why this film and the first one are so welcome - they are slam bang nostalgic odes to a bygone era of action film.

Franco Macabro said...

@Fritz: The comedy with Lundgren where great, loved the part where he was trying to get Nan Yu's attention by coughing and she just ignored him...or that scene where Lundgren's sleeping and snoring...pretty funny stuff, also, when Arnold calls him 'Frankenstein' heh..heh...funny stuff in deed.

Yeah, Van Damme does still have kicks in him, it's just that the passage of time hasn't been as kind to his face.

@Venom5: Actually, I had some problems with the editing in the last scenes, the ones that take place in the airport. These guys are all shooting their guns and there's no cohesion the the thing, it's just the randomly shooting their guns at what and whom exactly? Who knows cause the scene was just one big old mess, but I let it slip and just saw it as a montage of violence.

I personally dug this one a bit more, it's louder and funnier, but I enjoy them both very much.

@J.D.: I think you're gonna have a blast J.D., looking forward to your review!

Dan O. said...

Everybody here knows that they are just making another loud, stupid, crazy action film that’s not going to change the world, but still offer you plenty of entertainment in a short limit of hour 40 minutes and that’s all that mattered to me. Great review my man.

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks Dan O!

Unknown said...

I like the opinion of introduceing this cast together but it demanded a powerful, more captivating story.

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