Runtime: 1 HR, 33 MIN
Director: Simon West
Writers: Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone, Ken Kaufman, David Agosta, Richard Wenk, and Dave Callaham
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Liam Hemsworth
Sylvester Stallone was one of the biggest box office draws in the world in the 80s and early 90s. By the early 2000s however his career had deteriorated to such a point that he was mostly starring in direct-to-DVD films. That all changed in 2006 when against all odds he starred in Rocky Balboa, a continuation of the Rocky series that he had left behind in 1990. Two years later he released Rambo, the forth film in the First Blood series that had been ‘dead’ since 1988. Then, in what I can only assume was a stroke of pure genius he attached himself to a small project called The Expendables. Then he rewrote, directed and starred in the greatest 80s movie ever made in the 2000′s. Two years later The Expendables are back, they’re bringing back even more aging actions stars with them, so the question is can they recapture the magic?
Barney and his ‘Expendables’ are blackmailed to recover a mysterious object locked in a safe located in a downed aircraft. Everything goes according to plan until Jean Vilain and his group of coldblooded mercenaries steal the object that can lead to world wide chaos. Out manned, out gunned, and deep within enemy territory The Expendables are out for revenge and with the help of a few ‘old friends’ they may just get their wish.
Is The Expendables 2 a good movie? Not by a long shot; the dialogue is beyond cheesy, the plot is beyond ridiculous, and there are plot wholes so big you could drive a dump truck through them. What’s great about The Expendables 2 is that none of that bothers me in the slightest. It’s hard to complain about terrible dialogue, an over the top plot, or numerous plot holes when the film revels in those qualities.
Everything about The Expendables 2 screams B-movie but instead of being a low budget affair this B-movie cost $100 million dollars to produce. The money didn’t go towards writing a coherent script or reworking the dialogue and I doubt too much of it went towards the stars paychecks. From the looks of things it went towards bullets and explosions and honestly that was money well spent.
Nothing bothers me more than a film that doesn’t deliver on what it advertises. It doesn’t matter what genre we’re talking about; teen sex comedies need to have sex, horror movies need to have scares, and action movies need to have action and that is where The Expendables succeeds where so many others have failed. There’s action on top of action and on top of that action there’s even more action. The pre-title sequence alone has more action (albeit over the top action) than most action films have during an entire film. There’s almost no foul language, there’s no sex or nudity, there’s just a lot of action and pun heavy dialogue and that’s OK by me.
Mickey Rourke is the only good guy who didn’t return for the sequel which isn’t a big loss considering he didn’t contribute much to the original film. Some of the cast, namely Statham, Crews, Li, and Couture see their screentime dwindle to make room for new or expanded roles for the likes of Schwarzenegger, Willis, Norris, and Hemsworth. I didn’t like seeing less of some of the original cast but room had to be made and that’s bound to happen when you include larger roles for more aging heroes.
Casting a more intimidating villain was a good idea for the sequel. Eric Roberts plays a great sleazebag and David Zayas is a capable actor but neither of them fit the role of the intimidating physical villain in the original. Jean-Claude Van Damme regretted turning down a role in the original so he hopped on the chance to play the villain and it worked to great effect. He’s cold, calculating, and still physical enough to fit in with the likes of Stallone and watching the two of them bounce accented dialogue off one another was a pure treat.
I had a great time watching The Expendables 2. It’s a bad movie but it’s so much fun to watch and it’s very easy to defend because everyone involved was in on the joke. If Stallone and company had set out to make the Citizen Kane of action films and this was the result it would be easy to dismiss the film but instead their intention was to make the action B-movie equivalent of Citizen Kane and the result is unabashedly wonderful.