THE EXPENDABLES 2
By Dan Kester
Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis are all back with a few new friends in the sequel to The Expendables. Joining the fray this time around are equally renowned action movie legends Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme. But can all of these men deliver on making this film the talk of action movie legend, or will all of these super egos blow things up before the story can even get started?
The story opens on the Expendables team being dropped in the middle of Nepal as they are attempting to rescue a billionaire from his captors. Before long, the body count of nameless enemy soldiers number in the hundreds as the film’s opening scene sets the tone for what is ahead.
Typically, a movie’s opening scene merely sets the tone and will progressively tell a story that was established by the opener as well as what we know or will know of its characters. However, here we are given everything right up front and are just given it repeatedly with a slightly altered delivery system. Bravado-laden conversations between the characters broken up by the sporadic jaded former soldier speech intermixed with automatic rifles and explosives tearing into the flesh of thousands of clearly overpaid and under-talented foot soldiers. But it’s so well done that the completely recycled scenery, dialogue and sequences are completely welcomed with each passing minute.
The plot, for lack of a better word, couldn’t be more cliché without concerted effort. Van Damme and his virtually endless gang of hired guns have taken all able bodied men and children from several surrounding villages to mine for stored and unused plutonium left over by the Soviets from the Cold War. In their first meeting with Stallone and his team, Stallone is bested and one of them loses his life in the encounter. On the hunt to avenge for their fallen brethren, the Expendables hunt him down before he can sell the plutonium to a foreign power. It’s like the 1980's never really ended; all that was missing was a synthesized rock ballad playing over as explosions riddled battered Eastern European and Western Asian countries.
Each of the characters from the first movie is back and they are just as over the top as ever. However, stealing the show is Statham and Stallone whose camaraderie is the thing of comedy gold. They are
constantly going back and forth in a game of one-upmanship that is a benefit for the audience at every turn. Although sometimes the comedy relief feels a bit over the top and distracting, it is a very welcomed change of pace instead of dodging the constantly shelling and explosions.
Perhaps, the greatest thing with characters is a cameo by action legend Chuck Norris. Coming out on the set, killing several people and taking out a tank single-handedly; saving the team in the process. He then greets Stallone and the team, and the movie’s writing staff actually was able to work in a Chuck Norris joke. It was met by a cheering audience at this viewing, and assuredly others nationwide.
This movie is, without a doubt, the most over-the-top, ridiculous and clichéd movie that Hollywood may have ever produced; and it works on every single level. There isn’t going to be a romantic subplot to enhance character development or humanize the lead. Virtually bordering on parody, this movie is clever enough to never take itself completely seriously, while simultaneously never allowing itself to fall into the trap of being intentionally parody. This movie knows exactly what it is and who it is tailored to, and it never backs down, apologizes or deviates from that goal or target audience. It is so rare to come to a film knowing exactly what you’re going to get, be 100 percent correct and not be the slightest bit disappointed by it.
If you’re not a fan of action movies, then this is the absolute worst film of 2012. However, objectively, it tells a story, has effective and not obnoxious comic relief and the pacing of the movie stays top notch as it seamlessly blends from one action scene to the next. Anyone who will go see this movie will not be disappointed.