When the news spread that The Expendables was to happen, the internet was wild with speculation. Teaming up the biggest names in action movie history, the film could do no wrong in the eyes of fans. Two years on and Sylvester Stallone’s worked harder than ever, bringing audiences more names, more action and more one-liners in The Expendables 2.
Sylvester Stallone returns as Barney Ross, resident hard-man with a no-nonsense attitude to his job. What does this job entail? Hand-to-hand combat, weapons know-how and the ability to bring together a group so well-learned in killing few can stand in their way. The group is, of course, the titular Expendables, a group of misfits who work together on high-earning hits against the morally wrong of the world.
Beginning in Nepal, Ross and his men, made up of the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Terry Crews and newcomer Liam Hemsworth, soon find themselves embroiled in a testy mission that sees them working in the interests of Church (Bruce Willis), a plot development that sees the inclusion of Maggie (Nan Yu) in their group. An encounter with Jean-Claude Van Damme and a shock twist later and the Expendables soon find themselves coming into contact with other actors whose appearances will delight multitudes of action fans.
Often feeling like a mix between ‘what Arnie did next’ and a story strung together by impressive cameos, The Expendables 2 is a film very much aware of itself; instead of taking itself too seriously it plays with what it’s got. Instead of feeling bleak and hammy, action scenes as well as tender moments come across as well-played parody. These guys know the score and they’re more than willing to have a little fun along the way.
If gung-ho actioners aren’t your thing then you may be a little out of your depth here but there’s plenty of enjoyment to go around. From the smiles raised when the likes of Jet Li and Chuck Norris appear (the latter having the best entrance of the film) to the fantastically played (if extremely cheesy) one-liners, you don’t have to be a film fanatic to know there’s something good here – a feeling reinforced by the sense that these guys are friends on and off screen.
Much like its predecessor, The Expendables 2‘s marketing revolved almost solely around the names attached to the project but, with such an impressive cast, it’s hard to blame the film for doing so. Although most of its best moments are captured in such marketing ploys, the film still does well with what it has. The storyline isn’t the strongest and there are obvious character arcs at play but is the overall sense of fun that wins The Expendables 2 brownie points.
Mixing some gruesome action sequences (beware of helicopters) and some genuinely funny dialogue, The Expendables 2 is a tongue-in-cheek action romp that will satisfy the neediest of action fans.