August 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Expendables 2

A movie like The Expendables 2, much like the first one, is pretty much critic proof. You will either like it or you won't, you'll buy into it or you won't. It is clearly a movie made to have fun with and not be concerned with actual quality. Now, this is not to say this is a bad movie, it isn't, it is just a movie that isn't really concerned with believability of plot. With that being said, this second go around is a step up from the first film.

Where the original film went through bouts of self seriousness, exhibited in scenes like Mickey Rourke's flashback speech, this one decides to go a more meta, self-referential route, kind of like what Wes Craven did with Scream. I think it also helped that Sylvester Stallone stepped back from the director's chair. I mean, he has made good films, but perhaps this large ensemble isn't his thing. His replacement, Simon West, seems to have handled it better, kind of like his ensemble directing in Con Air.

The Expendables 2 opens with a big, explosive, extended prologue that sees Barney Ross (Stallone) leading his team into a heavily guarded compound to rescue a single hostage. That hostage is none other than Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Shortly after the reunion of the action icons, Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) shows up and tasks the team with retrieving a computer from a safe in a downed plane.

The mission sends the team with new recruit Billy (Liam Hemsworth) and tag along safecracker Maggie (Nan Yu) off into the jungle. The problem is that before they am complete their mission, they are interrupted by a bad guy named, and I am not kidding, Villain (Jean Claude Van Damme). This results in our heroes taking the continuing mission very personally.

The Expendables team head off to find Villain and the rest of his terrorist organization. This leads to plenty of bloodshed, bullets, explosions, and plenty of opportunity to spot one liners referencing their collective past filmography.

It's funny, as I sit here and try to write about the movie, I cannot really think of all that much to say. The movie is explosive fun, feels like a pretty good step up from the fist movie, and is packed full of mostly aging action stars proclaiming their ongoing relevance.

As I said earlier, the movie is critic proof. I guess that also goes for my ability to write anything about it. I will say that this movie is a good example of the difficulties faced when making a movie with lots of known actors, it is add to give them all meaningful roles and enough screen time. Chuck Norris has a few short minutes and Van Damme could certainly have used some more screen time. I cannot be easy juggling all of them in one movie. Also, I would have liked some more of Scott Adkins.

I like the movie. It has plenty of bullets, chases, and fisticuffs. I enjoyed the in-jokes and I will look forward to any further additions to the franchise. Now, if you like explosive, over the top action performed by over the hill stars, check this one out.


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