The Expendables 2
- Director:Simon West
- Cast:Terry Crews, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis
- Release Date:August 30, 2012
- Running time:103 minutes
- Film Worth:$14.00
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The plot is limp and the attempts at pathos are close to cringe-worthy, but there’s no denying this sequel absolutely delivers in terms of classic testosterone-fuelled action.
It started out as a last hurrah – now it's a franchise. That's a problem, but not the only one. Sylvester Stallone has cemented his position as King of the '80s Action Workhorses, and his ability to put an even bigger band back together this time around is impressive, but The Expendables 2 suffers from much the same problem as its progenitor: it never seems quite sure what to do with its roster of ageing ass-kickers.
It all starts so promisingly, too. New director Simon West (Con Air) stages a beautifully over the top opening sequence, wherein Stallone and his crew (Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Jason Statham, et al) roar into action in slogan-festooned armoured vehicles while shouting catchphrases and slaughtering all and sundry. When one of the boys is offed by Jean-Claude Van Damme's smirking bad guy, it seems like a perfectly serviceable, if thin, framework to wrap some grade A cinematic carnage around.
Unfortunately, the film spends so much time trying to justify its violent action beats that, by the time they finally arrive, the audience is near comatose. It's hard to see which is worse - the needlessly extended plot, riddled with false tension beats, or the ham-fisted attempts at pathos, which range from the laughable to the near-offensive. These guys are, for all intents and purposes, super heroes. Hell, not even that - they're action figures. Attempts to humanise them are doomed from the start.
And yet, for all that, when the film is firing on all cylinders, it's an absolute blast. It's just so much fun to see these guys in action, that all the limp plotting and weak justifications used to make that happen are forgivable. West is a far more assured action director than Stallone, who helmed the first film, and he stages the mayhem with dexterity and aplomb. Plus, one has to consider the simple fact that we've been waiting so long to see Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot someone again, that the cathartic release of actually seeing him do so is damn near orgasmic.
Yes, the negative elements of The Expendables 2 outnumber the positive, but what does work in the film works so well. It's a machine that runs on testosterone and goodwill, and while it splutters and coughs a lot, it gets there in the end. Still, it'll need a serious tune up before a third outing.