Notable Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Hemsworth, Randy Couture, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nan Yu
Review: Longest. Casting. List. Ever. Jeez, I think I ran my word count out already just listing every action star Stallone could convince to pop in for a quick gun fight.
So here we are, reviewing a film with quite possibly the greatest action hero line-up in history. There’s no doubt The Expendables 2 was set up for glory, but with so much hype surrounding nothing but nostalgic casting choices, one had to be nervous proper due diligence would be done as well to support the local talent. The Expendables itself left much to be desired, but that was the past baby. The Expendables 2 was everything I wanted and more, being nothing but enjoyable blockbuster fun served via heaping helpings of testosterone exploiting fun, fully embracing the B-Movie action genre and going for nothing but balls to the wall action. Director Simon West (Con Air/The Mechanic) proved and invaluable resource in setting up extravagant shoot outs and pummeling fight scenes, challenging Con Air for silly ensemble cast beat-em up glory. Every minute outdid the last, every explosion out blew the previous, every punch packed a harder whallop…you get my drift. The Expendables 2 is hands down summer 2012’s quintessential blockbuster hit, providing unmitigated entertainment no soul can deny. Even just thinking back on the film, I feel like someone just injected me with a syringe full of raw red meat, crushed up dumbbells, a fully lit cigar, and the blood of John f#cking Wayne himself. The Expendables 2 is nothing but an action-gasm of epic proportions. Think that quote will make the DVD cover?
So the plot, or what little plot there is, goes as follows – correct me if I’m wrong: A team of mercenaries, called the Expendables – made up of Rambo, Chev Chelios, Cheeseburger Eddy, a tiny martial arts master, a UFC fighter, and the lesser known Hemsworth brother – all kick some ass on a deadly mission, returning home for a nice break. Interrupting their vacation, John McClane shows up and apparently Rambo owes him a favor, so The Expendables promptly have to carry out a secret mission to even out Rambo’s debt. They even have to bring a girl along, something the group fears on account of the impending cootie outbreak Rambo temps fate with by letting her along. Of course things don’t go as planned, as Colonel Guile from Street Fighter shows up and steals what goods the Expendables were supposed to return to John McClane. Guile even kicks the group while their down, quickly getting on their bad side. What comes next is Rambo’s declaration of war against Colonel Guile, chasing him all around Bulgaria just to get even. The body count rises as the Expendables carry out their traveling tour of destruction, even getting some help from the Terminator and Walker Texas Ranger. I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down, and if not, close enough!
From a storyboard standpoint, The Expendables 2 is nothing to write home about. Based on your most basic revenge themes, Barney Ross (Stallone) and his group of warriors run through the usual motions, leaving cinematic twists and turns for more ambitious films. Dialogue was also at a laughable minimum, when characters weren’t quoting their old movies that is, as the real thought of the film was put elsewhere. Hell, when Stallone and Dolph have a conversation, they might as well have been just grunting and pounding their chests in an animalistic display of power. The inaudible mumblings evoked nothing but laughter, as viewers didn’t really care how their exchange would forward the “story,” but these glaring shortcomings only exemplify just how monstrously indulgent the more entertaining and visual aspects of West’s film were created.
When it comes down to it, The Expendables 2 takes everything fun about the action genre, diverts all its efforts into making those aspects explosively dynamic, and just fills the rest in with hokey gags and head-shaking one liners, aka everything we love about our action heroes. West’s sequel is everything we wanted The Expendables to be, plus everything else we could only dream. Watching the group of badasses galavant around with gigantic weaponry and souped up vehicles while blowing entire countrysides to sh*t was everything an action junkie could dream of, and come on, the casting made it all too delectible. Every time an actor like Norris or the Governator entered a scene, chills would tingle up and down your spine, as the film made perfect use of every single star, and each actor had a blast with their part. Sure, Stallone’s battle with Stone Cold in The Expendables may have been a little more brutal, but the wow factor of watching Stallone match up with Van Damme was like a fantasy scenario. Norris’ entrance is another great example of one of those “AWWW YEAHHH” moments, strolling down a war-torn street after single-handedly going berserker on a whole army of militants, and a freakin’ tank for good measure. Badassery, your name is Chuck Norris, aviators and all.
High-octane action, countless bullets, massive explosions, phallic jokes about big guns, war-time banter, beautifully choreographed fight sequences (looking at Statham’s holy beatdown)…I was grinning with excitement for the film’s entirety.
That’s the message to take away from The Expendables 2. Go in for the action, go in for the cast, go in for the prospects – but don’t expect anything else. Not every film has to be in contention for Best Screenplay, as long as the other supporting elements are carefully attended to. Simon West’s strong vision helps The Expendables 2 surpass all expectations of summer blockbuster monotony, proving not every big budget flick is all for show. The Expendables 2 is full of heart, it’s just found in different places than other films, like laying on the ground next to the corpse of henchman #3,496…exactly where we want it.
Final Rating 8 Stallone mutterings out of 10
Awesomeness, awesomeness everywhere…