The Expendables 2 (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
1Sep/123

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Sylvester Stallone as Jesus

I admit that in my review of the first Expendables I might have gushed a bit too much and gone on way too long for a movie that was only half of what it could've been.  Check out the review and tell me that I didn’t go overboard on a film that, on second glance, was more an idea of what to do than what was actually accomplished. With that said, let me tell all of you kind readers that the same thing is true of the wonderfully entertaining The Expendables 2. This movie was everything that I could have hoped for.

For the second film in this series, everyone (minus Mickey Rourke) is back to help Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) defeat the aptly titled Villain (Jean Claude Van Damme) from stealing weapons-grade plutonium.  Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) cashes in his favor from the last film and gives Ross and his crew the task of recovering a map with the location of the plutonium in a hostile country.

When The Expendables do recover the map, Villain and his posse surround them before they can leave. Villain kills one of Barney’s men, and the mission becomes very personal to all of them. What results is a lot of gun play, explosions and very fun cameos from the likes of Willis, Schwarzenegger and a very game Chuck Norris.

Okay, guys, don't expend any heat! It's cold here!

The reason this movie is such a big improvement on the first film is because it's just so damn fun.  The first film was bogged down in trying to make it something more important than a dumb action film with the movie going into monologues about the cost of war on people and the atrocities that man can afflict on their fellow man.  The problem with this was the movie was a dumb action film at its core, and these scenes fell flat in a film where a man throws a missile in the air using only his own strength.

Thankfully all of the topical messages they tried to fill the first movie with are gone. Now you get gruesomely dispatched bad guys with lines like “Rest in pieces” and action scenes where people don’t get shot so much as explode. The Expendables 2 also improves on the first movie by making you care about the mission they are on.  With the death early on in the film, the mission becomes personal not just for the characters but for the audience as well.  We liked the person killed, so the audience is rooting for Barney to extract his revenge.

Another reason it is so easy to root for the good guys is the film had a great villain in Villain.  Jean Claude Van Damme was probably my favorite action star of the 90's and I saw all of his films from the good like Timecop to the very bad such as Double Team. Van Damme was also the major missing ingredient from the first film for me, I didn’t understand how you could make a action films with all the huge stars without having Van Damme show up to do one of his patent flying scissor kicks.

On top of that, I wanted to see him in this series because Van Damme in the last few years has started becoming a good actor, something I never would have believed 20 years ago.  He turned in one of the most interesting acting performances of the last 10 years with his work in JCVD. I watched that film trying to figure out how much input Van Damme had vs. how much he trusted the director and whether he knew that the end product would paint such a damning portrait of him.  His monologue in the middle of the film was raw and powerful and unforgettable.

This movie along with him being thrown to movie jail and only making low budget films that debut on DVD has made him hungry again for the first time since the 80s. I mentioned all this about the Muscles from Brussels because he took his movie persona and his real life asshole tendencies to make a memorable villain. I always believe that the hero is only as good as the villain, and The Expendables 2 greatly improved over the first one in this regard.  The one complaint I would have is they didn’t give him enough screen time, and I would have loved to have seen his character fleshed out more.

This being an action film, I am happy to say that Simon West does a fine job directing and staging the action.  This site has been my soapbox for raging against the choppily edited, extreme close-up action scenes that have become the popular choice for action films, and I am glad to say this film stayed away from that.  The action scenes were not filmed to make it look like a videogame like the Underworld and Resident Evil movies.  Thankfully you have an old-fashioned action flick that meshes perfectly with the cast.  Simon West will never be a widely respected director, but he knows how to film action movies which is a trait that many newer directors have yet to learn.

The final reason I enjoyed this movie so much is because they used the cameos in a more fluid way.  The first movie Schwarzenegger and Willis had one scene that was shoehorned in the film for fan service but it didn't function as an integral part of the movie.  Here they were given actual roles and it felt more natural.  The other big cameo in the film was Chuck Norris and while this scene might have been a giant meta joke on all the Chuck Norris jokes online, it was still highly enjoyable.  Chuck Norris was the ultimate Deus Ex Machina in the film and it fit him perfectly.

"I'll be Bach! In a biopic!"

I really had fun with this film, and so did my dad who has always been my action movie buddy. But how would you know if you should see this movie?  It depends, would you laugh at:

  • Jason Statham dressed in a priest uniform with a lot of knives. He notes gleefully, “I now pronounce you husband and knife” after dispatching of many bad guys.
  • Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger spouting each others catch phrases.
  • The mentioned Chuck Norris jokes.

If you answered "hell yes" at these questions, then see The Expendables 2 ASAP. You will have more fun than could be imagined.

Posted by Ryan

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Hated JCVD, hated Expendables, hate Chuck Norris jokes, hate the idea of them recycling each others catchphrases, remembered at least smiling a bit at Jason Statham.

    Sorry Ryan, you fooled me the first time.

    • Secretly, Ryan doesn’t care about movies. In truth he only ever writes movie reviews to trick you into seeing movies you don’t like.

  2. Andrew, I doubt you will like it, although not liking JCVD hurts me. Nova, you figured me out.


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