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The Expendables 2 (2012)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Movie Connections:
The Expendables
> The Expendables (2010)
> The Expendables 2 (2012)
> The Expendables 3 (2014)
Genres:
Action, Action Thriller, War Adventure
Director:
Simon West Simon West
Starring:
Sylvester Stallone Sylvester Stallone
Jason Statham Jason Statham
Jet Li Jet Li
Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren
Chuck Norris Chuck Norris

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Following the events of the previous film and an explosive rescue mission in Nepal, Mr. Church enlists Barney Ross and his team for a seemingly simple mission deep within Eastern Europe. It goes well until one of them gets killed by the ruthless mercenary Jean Vilain. Swearing revenge, the Expendables venture into hostile territory and discover Vilain's plot to siphon and profit from tons of weapons-grade plutonium. With vengeance in their blood and some unexpected help, the Expendables race to stop Vilain and his team of mercenaries before the plutonium falls into more wrong hands. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: September 09, 2012
While the movie had its detractors, the brain-dead-action-movie crowd was all over The Expendables and its novelty of packing the biggest names of the genre (especially from its heyday in the 80s) into one flick. We clamored for more, and they delivered, promising more Schwarzenegger, more Willis, and introducing Norris and Van Damme.

A Chinese man has been taken hostage by a massive military force and is in need of rescuing. Business as usual for the Expendables (Barney Ross, Lee Christmas, Yin Yang, Gunner Jensen, Hale Caesar and Toll Road) and they fight their way in, saving both their target and rival mercenary Trench Mauser. Just when our heroes are surrounded during their retreat, they're saved by their newest member, sniper Billy the Kid. After Yang leaves to escort their target back to China, the rest of the group returns home for a little R&R and Billy announces the next mission will be his last. As luck would have it, their next mission has just presented itself. Our old pal Church wasn't too happy with the way they handled things last time, and he's offering them a chance to square up. A plane has crashed in Albania, and along with Agent Maggie Chan, the Expendables have to go in and retrieve a case from the wreckage. It should be a walk in the park, until a group of Satanic terrorists known as the Sangs make themselves known. They've been terrorizing the local villages, and when their leader, Jean Vilain (the jokes have all been made, let's just move on shall we) takes the case and murders one of their own in cold blood, it's not just about the mission anymore. Now it's personal.

As movie fans are well aware, kicking out a sequel for an action movie usually means one thing. More more more, and that's just what Expendables 2 delivers. Not only does the introductory assault outdo the last movie's attack on the pirates hands down, but since the actual mission begins much earlier in the running time, the action flows much more consistently throughout the running time. I had an absolute ball with this, and while I'll admit the final mano y mano with Stallone and Van Damme was a little weak, all of the fights leading up to it more than make up for it. Especially the fist fight between Jason Statham and Scott Adkins. And then of course, there's our heavy hitters stepping up. While their obvious age is something of a downer, the ten-year-old in me was still jumping up and down, cheering like a maniac as I watched Schwarzenegger and Stallone walking side by side, guns blazing, laying waste to dozens upon dozens of henchmen. The only problem I had with the action is the blatantly obvious use of CGI for the blood splatter and other environmental effects. As you can see from the first Expendables and the latest Rambo sequel, Stallone is all about computerized gore. For the life of me I can't fathom why. It looks horrible.

And then there's the meta references. Oh, the meta references. Arnold was perhaps the biggest offender; of course there were the obligatory "I'll be back"s, but he even lets out a sarcastic "yippe kai yay" as Bruce Willis jumps into the fray. Still, the constant barrage of cheesiness is nothing compared to Chuck Norris spitting out one of his infamous facts. Sadly, he didn't let loose one of his trademark roundhouse kicks, but the man is 72 years old. We'll let it slide. It's all done with a wink to the audience, who will definitely respond with rolling eyes, but whether they're accompanied with a grin or a grimace is the question. I loved them, but it might be too much for some people.

By part two, the novelty of the genre's biggest stars coming together had begun to fade a bit; the biggest buzz about this sequel was the addition of Chuck Norris and bigger roles for Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but don't be fooled. All three men basically have extended cameos, and as can be expected, they all come together in the explosive finale to kick some ass. It's not just them though, even the Expendables themselves are shafted pretty hard as well. Yes, I know this is Stallone's baby, so I can understand making him the focal point, but his crew has been reduced to almost tertiary levels. While the original mostly focused on Ross and Christmas, there was still a moment or two to let the other groups have their fifteen minutes. Here, Jet Li is just another cameo, and after the introduction mission, his part in the film is done. We're talking about twenty minutes in. I'm assuming they felt having two Asian martial artists was pushing it, and what a disappointing decision it was. Even the ones that remained on-screen for the entirety of the running time didn't fare too much better however, as Terry Crews and Randy Couture are practically extras.

Also, I wish they would have addressed some of the changes in the original crew. Perhaps most importantly, Mickey Rourke's character, Tool, has disappeared with zero explanation. His big scene in the first movie earned near-universal praise, and he provided an important stability for the crew. Tool brought a sense of humanity to the characters that added an incredible amount of weight. He almost single-handedly kept the film from being a full-out braindead action movie, and his whereabouts should have been given a bit of attention. Also, I'm amazed that Gunner was brought back into the fold. Not only did he go completely bat shit insane last time, but he blatantly betrayed the group, personally trying to kill Yang and Ross. Sure, fans wanted Doph back and he was hanging out with them in their bar in the last film's conclusion, but even so, it was definitely awkward.

As can be expected, part two sacrifices the little characterization the first movie offered in favor of beefing up the action, and while everyone will prefer one or the other, there's no denying just how much balls to the wall fun Expendables 2 is. Looking forward, there's still plenty of potential for Expendables 3. After all, I'm sure it's safe to assume Trench has his own team, opening the door for Vin Diesel, Jeremy Renner, Dwayne Johnson and/or Michelle Rodriguez. Christopher Walken or Samuel L. Jackson would be prime choices for a villain, and much like Lethal Weapon 4 did for Jet Li, the franchise would be a great opportunity to introduce American audiences to the talents of Tony Jaa as the silent but deadly assassin henchmen archetype. Bring it on, Sly. 9/10.
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