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Expendables 2, The (2012)
Friday, August 17, 2012
Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yu Nan
Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone, Ken Kaufman, David Agosto, Dave Callaham
Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Lee Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) -- with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard -- are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time - six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that's nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother.
Expendables 2, The (2012) | Review
The Great Action Movie We've Been Hoping For
Expendables 2 distills the action movie genre down to its very basic action movieness. It's the result of trimming all the unnecessary fat from the formula and keeping the bare essentials. That entails lots of guns, lots of heroic poses holding the guns, bad guys that spawn like you're in a Call of Duty game, plenty of explosions, a plethora of tough sounding, witty one-liners, and a villain with plenty of swagger and an evil cackle. Oh, you do need some sort of basic plot to hang all of that on, but it really doesn't need to be one that's very detailed. The Expendables 2 puts that all together and then ups the ante by populating the film with some of the biggest names from the golden era of the action movie and lets them just do their thing. It's violent, it's blood spattered, it's over-the-top, it's highly improbable, and it is the epitome of that bygone era of the true action film.
It's also one of those rare movies that understands the principle "if you're going to put a gun in the story, someone better pull the trigger" (and in the case of this film, that's often quite literal). Basically this means that if the bad guy does something really nasty with the knife of the hero, well then he better get his comeuppance with that same knife. If a thug is going to try and stare down Statham and disrespect him, it better be Statham who takes him down. If a helicopter blade is whirling nearby during a fight scene, it better be involved in the fight scene. Expendables understands that all important principle, and never once are you let down with a moment where you're thinking, "Why even show or mention that if you're not going to do anything with it?"
Another good example of this is the fact that we get to see Jean-Claude Van Damme take on Sylvester Stallone mano-y-mano. Obviously if these two are in a movie, and they aren't allies, we want to see Rocky and Blood Sport fight. Now, this fight doesn't quite have the visceral thrills of the battle between Vin Diesel and The Rock in Fast Five (these guys are a bit older), but it's still an awesome sight to see. Indeed, Van Damme seems to be having a whole lot of fun in his role as essentially a Bond villain. He has all the swagger and charisma one could want from a truly villainous bad guy who does evil things because, well, he's the bad guy. I wish he had more scenes because it was just so much fun to see him having fun. The rest of the cast also appears to be having a good time, although Schwarzenegger does seem just a little off his game, but then it's been awhile since he's done more than just a cameo. Oh, and Chuck Norris has some of the coolest, and funniest, moments in the film. Again, it's just obvious he's having a good time.
And... there's not much more to say about this movie. I mean, aside from these guys blowing stuff up and shooting a bunch of guns and having some really cool fight scenes, there isn't a whole lot to this movie. It's The Temple of Doom re-envisioned as a Rambo-Die Hard adventure. It's pure spectacle without any substance, but that spectacle will probably make some giddy with nostalgia and others grin with the sheer adrenaline of the fun. No, it's not a movie for everyone, but for those who can appreciate it for what it is, they'll probably leave the movie thinking, "That was one of the greatest, straight-up action movies I've ever seen." I know I did.
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