I am a fan of the first Expendables film. I thought it was not only an enjoyable film for fans of 80s action films, but also a well-made, and entertaining action film in it’s own right. The Expendables 2 I found to be quite enjoyable as well, even though, to me, it clearly cranked things up a notch in almost every department. This can be good or bad depending on your personal taste. For me, it was a buffet of awesome campy fun, to go along with cheesey humour, and with a lot of winks and nods to long time fans of the genre and the action legends within it.
The opening sequence starts thing off very strongly. The crew go into a rescue mission and end up finding more than they bargained for. I wont spoil who else they end up finding on this mission, but I don’t think I was the only one in the theater to get a good grin out of it.
Bruce Willis shows up and tells Sly he still owes him from screwing him over in the last film. I don’t care about the character’s names, and will instead use the actors names, just because it’s more fun that way for this review. Sly agrees to make things up and honor his promise to Bruce, so agress to go on this mission assigned to him.
They try to build up Sly’s friendship with the youngest member of the crew and it did seem very forced and rushed, but I suppose there just wasn’t enough screen time to make the viewer believe in this friendship – it is after all supposed to be a full blown action film, not a dramatic opera. Anyway, the young man gets killed by some bad guys they run into on their mission, and Sly and the gang are royally pissed with only three things on their minds: Hunt them. Catch them. Kill them! And then the real fun starts.
The cast is even bigger, better and badder than in the first film. The additions of Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme, along with much more screen time for Arnold, really added to the fun of this thing. There are a lot of in-jokes and tongue-in-cheek humour – much more than what I can remember from the first flick. Chuck Norris in particular provided some fun moments and he even tells a Chuck Norris joke, resulting in laughter throughout the less than packed theater (I was surprised it wasn’t at least nearly sold out on opening night). Van Damme needs to be given a lot of credit here. He played his role as main Bad Guy to perfection and you really wanted to see his face get bashed in. Arnold’s one-liners were also a hoot.
All fun and jokey moments aside, this flick also had some serious production values and well executed action set pieces. A couple of moments really stuck out in my mind that I thought were awesomely shot, well made scenes. One involves Jason Statham dressed up as a Priest and kicking the bad guys asses in a church. This scene was probably the best fight choreography in the entire film. The other that really sticks out is the final battle between Sly and JCVD. It reminded me a bit of the final battle in one of my all-time favorite action flicks from the 80’s COBRA.
The Expendables 2 was fun. It fits perfectly what I envision a summer action flick to be; with awesome fights, massive explosions, and cheesy one-liners. This is not the usual Horror Booth fare, but I wanted to share what I thought of this. I recommend it.
– J.P. Thorn