The Expendables 2 (2012)

The Expendables 2 (2012) – RAWR! EXPLOSIONS! MORE FIREPOWER! GRRRRRR!!! What? You wanted something coherent? Oh fine… Sorry about that I’m just still pumped a day later after seeing this movie. The “blood and testosterone” approach is still in full force as Stallone brings us a sequel to his action superstar showcase from two years ago. This time, Sly doesn’t sit in the director’s chair, though, relinquishing that duty to Simon West, best known for similarly awesome action film Con Air. Con Air is not a smart film but it perfectly embodies the spirit of this kind of action movie so Mr. West does seem to be a very good choice. That being said, Stallone’s direction wasn’t really the problem with the first Expendables; it was more his writing that was responsible for the few quibbles I had with the film. Stallone continues on as co-screenwriter here so the movie might have some of the same problems…

All of the Expendables are back: Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li, who only really sticks around long enough to kick a lot of ass in the film’s high-octane opening), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture), and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews). Joining the team is sniper Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth, my second-favorite Hemsworth). The irritable Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) needs the Expendables to do a job, to square some sort of perceived debt carried over from the “botched” mission in the first film. (Even though they were hired to kill Garza and Garza totally got killed so I’m not sure how they fucked up…) He sends them, along with Maggie Chan (Yu Nan), to retrieve a coded map to a plutonium mine. However they are intercepted by the weapons dealer Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme, being awesomely evil) who steals the map and does something that makes this mission very personal for the Expendables. Big mistake. The Expendables are now on a mission of vengeance and they get help along the way from Church, Ross’s pseudo-friendly rival Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and legendary “lone wolf” Booker (Chuck Norris, about whom there are many amusing facts). Oh yeah, and a fuckton of people get killed.

First let me start off by saying that this movie contains 1) Sly, Arnold, and Bruce fighting bad guys together and 2) a BRUTAL fight to the death between Sly and Van Damme. Everything I always wanted to see as a kid has come to pass. I actually really have to give props to Van Damme for this movie. A few years back JCVD revealed he had acting chops beyond what any of us would have imagined. While this is nowhere near the kind of raw great performance that was found in that film, he plays a smug bastard very well. Li bails early due to his busy schedule but his bit in the opening sequence makes the most of every minute he’s on screen. Couture gets somewhat short-changed. His fight with Steve Austin was one of the highlights of the first film. In this movie he barely registers. Crews gets to be funnier in this movie, which is great since he’s a funny guy. I also really like Dolph. This time around he takes full advantage of his somewhat off-putting nature for humorous effect. Between the recently released trailers for Walter Hill’s Bullet to the Head (starring Sly) and Kim Jee-woon’s The Last Stand (starring Arnold) it looks like 80s action is coming back in a big way. This movie has everything you could hope for it to have. I’m wondering who’s left for the third one (oh and there will be a third one)… Kurt Russell? Chow Yun-fat? Danny Trejo? The sky is the limit…

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