Friday, August 17, 2012


THE EXPENDABLES 2 is the second go-around for a large cast of aging, 1980’s-era action film stars looking to give their fans the wet dream they’ve always wanted. On that basis alone, EX2 moderately succeeds, as the action is fun and the winks-and-nods to their older films are timed just right. The film works for as long as the action and homages are in play, and those moments only.
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his band of mercenaries-for-hire, which includes Lee (Jason Satham), Yin (Jet Li), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Billy (Liam Hemsworth) are hired under blackmail by Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) and his mysterious partner Maggie (Nan Yu) for a dangerous mission. Barney and his crew are ambushed by Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who is up to something diabolical, and eventually team up with old friends Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris).

It should be noted right away that the absolute best aspect of THE EXPENDABLES 2 are the action pieces. They are packed tight with things that go boom and bang; explosions blow bodies all over the place, knives are wickedly thrown, characters carry oversized guns, and kung-fu is used exclusively. Our gang of 1980’s action-stars throw out hilarious and well-timed references to their past works, and seeing Stallone, Willis, and Arnie in the same frame blasting away is indeed a wet dream.
Unfortunately, the film has to slow down here and there in order to deal with the business of plot and character development, and that is where EX2 becomes a tedious snore. The awful dialogue grinds things to halt and only lightly develops the film. The large and bloated cast is only dealt with by characters dropping in and out so quickly it’s difficult to keep track of, or care about what they are all about. Massive leaps in logic are aplenty; usually that can be forgiven, but EX2 has enough of them that it’s enough to jar you out of the movie.

Acting is about what you would expect out of this cast of thugs. There are no real standouts, although it should be noted Dolph Lundgren must be trying to talk through poorly-seated dentures, as it is often difficult to understand what the hell he is saying. Directed by Simon West, the cast flips back and forth between acting in a serious movie and being aware that they are in one big throwback.
It’s difficult to decide just how to judge EXPENDABLES 2; as a homage it works sporadically, as a parody it works very well, as a serious movie it fails miserably. If the bottom-line mission of EX2 was to invoke memories of the films of the 1980’s, then the filmmakers should have studied the better ones before assembling these guys.


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