Action Movie Fanatix Review: The Expendables 2

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Back For War

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Nan Yu, Liam Hemsworth, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Charisma Carpenter

Director: Simon West

2012  |  103 Minutes  |  Rated R

“That’s how we deal with death. We can’t change what it is, so we keep it light until it’s time to get dark. And then we get pitch black.” – Barney Ross

Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) calls on the Expendables for another mission, this time it’s supposed to be a cakewalk and he’s requiring them to take Maggie (Nan Yu) along to ensure the mission’s success.  But Jean Vilain intercepts their mission, killing the newest addition to the Expendables, Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth).  With Billy’s death hanging over their heads, the Expendables gear up to take the war to Vilain and his men.

The fact that it has taken me this long to officially review The Expendables movies is simply ridiculous.  It’s one of those times where I didn’t review them the first or second or third time I watched them and at a certain point it felt like it would be weird to review it.  It’s like if someone asked me to review my wife.  The great things about her are why I love her and the negatives… well… they are there… we just don’t talk about them.

I absolutely loved The Expendables.  The first movie was exactly what I was hoping for when it was first announced.  All the action greats were there.  The action was phenomenal.  The final act was fantastic.  What more could I ask for?  In a sequel the only thing I wanted was more of what I got in the first.  Unfortunately it seems Stallone and director Simon West thought fans wanted more jokes poking fun at this action hero dream team.

That’s not to say there isn’t some great action.  After all, that’s what these movies are all about.  You just have to put up with a jokey comment in between hails of gunfire.  Many of these stars have been known for their one-liners anyway, so what makes this such a bad thing?  Something about it feels different.  When Arnold spewed one-liners prior to joining the wonderful world of California politics, it was fun and somehow felt natural.  When everyone does it in dang near every scene in The Expendables 2 it feels forced and induced audible groans from its audience.  BUT some people seem to enjoy this part of the movie so what do I know…  I will say that on my most recent viewing with a group of guys who had mostly not seen Ex2 before (I know, right!?!) I found myself having more fun than in previous viewings.

I certainly enjoyed the addition of Chuck Norris to the film’s roster.  He was definitely deserving of it!  On the flip side, I was disappointed that we only got a few minutes of Jet Li and wished that the roles held by Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu had been held by actors more involved in the action genre.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins are absolutely awesome as the dastardly duo of big bads are really easy to hate… and love at the same time.  They just CHEW that scenery like none of the villains were able to in the first movie.  And the kick heard round the world at the beginning of the movie… I don’t want to ruin it if there is somehow a man alive that hasn’t seen Ex2 yet…  but it’s one of the top scenes in the series and that is really, REALLY saying something.

The final showdown between Stallone and Van Damme did leave me a little bit disappointed.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped for and felt a bit short for how BAD Van Damme’s Vilain was.  Same for the Statham / Adkins brawl…  I’d have really enjoyed seeing those two go at it for a bit longer, though the end of that fight was certainly worthwhile!

Rather minor quibbles aside, The Expendables 2 is still a really fun action movie.  It just happens to be my least favorite of the trilogy.

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