The Expendables 2 Review
“My Shoes Are Bigger Than This Car!”
August 22nd, 2012
If any of you recall, I was a huge fan of the first "Expendables" movie and was super-psyched to hear that they would be doing a sequel to it and bringing in even more of the action stars that have made names for themselves in years past. As the cast list came together it became difficult for me to decide which star I was most excited to see in the movie. I decided on Arnold, of course. It's been so long since he's done a full-length movie, and I've always loved his action flicks, so hearing he'd be back with a bigger role than his cameo in the first movie, I was very pumped. Same goes for Bruce Willis' character, it was nice to see him back for an action movie before we get "A Good Day to Die Hard" here soon. At any rate, this movie surpassed the first film in my opinion. "The Expendables" was great, but where it was great, it also had it's faults. For instance, the movie seemed to jump from scene to scene rather than flow through normally as this installment did. Also, all the in-between moments when there wasn't action happening or anything weren't as boring as some of them were in the first. That's not to say the first one had INCREDIBLY boring moments, they were just a little slow-paced for my taste. This one had a better sense of camaraderie and friendship, and all the jokes were fun and left the theater nearly in tears. The one thing that I was worried about was how this movie was going to fare, you know with all the action stars being packed into one film together. Kind of a recipe for disaster as much as it is a recipe for success. But they managed it very well. A lot different than you'd think. It played out as an adventure, at the same time it did an action film. The different actors were met on their way to take down the film's bad guys. I liked that. Just enough of each extra to satisfy everyone's palette, while the main cast held the thing together.
The film's director is Simon West, who is known for a couple of my favorite movies, including "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and "Con Air," so it's no wonder he did such a fantastic job with this action sequel. Now while I'm thinking of it, Simon West keeps Sylvester Stallone's intentions with this series going. It's not a big action drama, long-winded and meaningful. It has subtle moments where they impress a sort of logic or hidden-meaning on you, mostly things like "Trust in your friends" and those kind of things, but for the most part, this movie is exactly what you'd expect from a movie packed with this many different action stars: a gritty, gruesome, man movie full of explosions, violence, and blood. And that's what the draw of it is. It's a mindless movie that you can just go to and have fun for a couple hours. That's what the previews promised, and that's what the movie delivered, and I am more than happy to have had the chance to go and see it. If i had the money, I'd have seen it again, to be honest. I just love the fast-paced action scenes and brute strength of the fight choreography in this movie. Jet Li and Jason Statham themselves get some really awesome fight scenes in this movie, and Simon West knew that the fans would want more action and more of the actors than in the first one, so that's what he made sure happened. The writers here managed a very good follow-up story, giving us one of the most fun reasons to launch an action-adventure series: Revenge. Revenge is something that a lot of action movies don't do because they feel as if it takes away from the movie's message. Revenge allows for a ton of things that normal police officers and military officers are unwilling to go for, but we all know that The Expendables are far from police, and even if they did serve, they are no long members of the military, meaning they get what hey want done and that's that. I loved that feel for this movie, and the Writing/Directing team delivered it to me.
The movie starts out with Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his team going in to rescue a Chinese millionaire from guerrilla-like soldiers. Once there, the team meets up with someone who they were most definitely not planning on seeing: Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), longtime rival of Barney Ross, and a raging egotist. However, Trench tells Barney he owes him one and goes on his way. The team continue their mission and leave. In the downtime after their mission, Barney is visited by a familiar face from the previous film, Church (Bruce Willis), who is completely pissed at how Barney and his men handled his mission in Vilena. He was supposed to have brought the CIA agent back, not killed him, and now he tells Barney that the time for payback has come. Church gives Barney a mission to go deep in the mountains and collect a briefcase from a plane wreckage. He tells Barney that this is going to be tricky, and a CIA tech specialist, proficient in combat, would be going with them. Nothing would be fucked up in this mission, or Church would make sure they were locked away for good. When Barney learns that the specialist, Maggie (Nan Yu), was a woman he was not happy, but if he wanted to get Church off their backs, then they'd have to put up with it and make sure nothing happened to her. The team makes their way to the location, and once there they manage, with some difficulty, to extract the device they were looking for. However, an unexpected group of people, calling themselves the Sangs, and lead by a man named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) were also after the device in the plane wreck. He demands the device, and after receiving it, kills a member of the team and takes off. Barney, who doesn't cope well with the death of his teammate, launches a full-scale mission of revenge. When Church checks up on him, Barney tells him off, telling him this is getting solved his way, and no one is going to stop him. After learning that the device was a map to tons of plutonium, Barney must stop these men before any global domination-scale harm can befall the world. Meeting up with old friends, and making new ones, Barney teams up with Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Booker (Chuck Norris), Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Church (Bruce Willis), Maggie (Nan Yu), Toll Road (Randy Couture), and Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) to stop the Sangs from selling plutonium to the world's terrorists.
The story of the movie plays out well, as I've said revenge is always a fun thing to explore in the cinema. Especially when it is backed by an all-star cast of this proportion. Each actor brings their own personality into each character, and if I were to sit here and list each and every reason that each and every actor did a great job, I'd have about fifty more pages of review, so you'll just have to settle with this: Each person brings their own self to the table, and reminds the audience why each and every one of them was a huge action star in the first place. I was surprised especially by one performance in this film, though, and that was Jean-Claude Van Damme. It's no secret that Van Damme is an awful actor, however for some reason this movie made me see him in a slightly better light. He wasn't fantastic or anything, but he played a damn good villain. And where Vilain had few lines, Van Damme's actions are what made him such an interesting villain. Overall, the cast was put together fantastically, and all of them did a great job with their roles. A lot of worry dispelled by this, too because as I said, stuffing this many action stars into one movie is potentially catastrophic, but nothing went wrong with it in this one.
So if you loved the first one, you'll love this one more. If you weren't to thrilled with the first one, then give this one a try anyway. It's a very solid action movie, with tons of blood, violence, and explosions (something I'm probably emphasizing too much, but I don't care because that's part of what made the movie so damn fun). It's a movie that you can just sit back and have a blast in. Forget the worries of life, don't think too hard, and just have fun! That's what these movies are about, anyway, I'm almost positive about that. I love these kind of movies because they make me forget about the stress of adult-life for a while, and just let me enjoy myself. Something people rarely get to do in this day and age. So I give this film five stars for the pure fact that it's fun, and not one point in this movie made me hate that I spent money. I was content as hell to have spent the money on it, actually. So if you don't go see it, I'm almost sure you're going to regret it when it hits video store shelves. So do yourself a favor, spend the money, have fun, and remember that thanks aren't necessary!