The Expendables 2 Review

, Wednesday, 22 August 2012 20:50 Written by 
The Expendables 2 Review
  • Director: Simon West
    Writers: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Wenk
    Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Nan Yu, Liam Hemsworth, Jean Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Charisma Carpenter
    Run Time: 106 mins
    2 stars

With a cast that reads like a who's who of old age action stars and a premise no more advanced than "Who would win in a fight between...", Sylvester Stallone returns with The Expendables 2, the follow up to 2010's The Expendables. Handing over the camera to Con Air helmer Simon West, Stallone has called in a few favours from even more of his craggy-faced friends to ensure The Expendables 2 is bigger, badder and older.

The plot this time sees the old crew of mercenaries band together for a seemingly routine mission to obtain a mystery package from a plane wreck. Along for the ride is expert safe cracker Maggie (Nan Yu) and new recruit Billy (Liam Hemsworth).

Once the team locates the plutonium-related MacGuffin, they are hijacked by the preposterously named Jean Villain (Jean Claude Van Damme) who steals the MacGuffin and murders one of the crew, who shall not be named here but the film does a pretty good job of telegraphing it.

Needless to say, the Expendables vow revenge on Villain and his team of vaguely Eastern European sidekicks, who exist only to fire endless rounds of ammo and get their heads blown off.

Co-written by Stallone himself, The Expendables 2 trots out a raft of clich├ęs as old and tired as its cast and throws out some of the worst dialogue ever inflicted on audiences. The attempt to capture the kind of one-liners that many remember with fondness falls flat more times than not, with Jet Li's departing quip possibly the worst of the bunch: "Now that's what I call Chinese takeout!"

Despite just how bad the majority of the film is, West knows how to put together an action film and crafts some enjoyable if fairly generic sequences leading up to the film's climactic showdown that action fans have waited for since the 80's: Stallone vs. Van Damme. While neither man gives anything resembling a good performance here, they're both clearly still in great shape and it's still a thrill to see Van Damme bust out a flying roundhouse.

Speaking of roundhouses, the appearance of living-meme Chuck Norris, essentially playing the character created via his online 'Chuck Norris facts', still raises laughs despite being approximately seven years out of date.

For fans of old school, dumbed down and beefed up action movies, The Expendables 2 will no doubt be a dream. The acting is uniformly bad and the dialogue creaks but the film never quite slips into boring territory and doesn't drag often, providing a quick, stupid hit of action thrills and spills. The only real disappointment is how little everyone involved seems to be trying, content to fall back on the clunky one liners and knowing in-jokes than come up with something a bit smarter to go along with the testosterone fuelled action.

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