Verdict: 3 / 5
There’s nothing I enjoy more about a movie than an intelligent, often complicated storyline that includes a few really good twists and a surprise ending, capped with exquisite dialogue and character performances. The Expendables 2 isn’t any of that. From the start, you know exactly what to expect…action, some more action, add in a few one-liners, and then a side of action to round it all off. This sequel lives up to exactly to what this.
The group of mercenaries, otherwise known as the Expendables, returns with the full cast from the original (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Li, Crews and Couture),with the exception of Micky Rourke. The Expendables 2 replaces this vacancy in the form of Liam Hemsworth, as Billy the Kid, and Yu Nan, as Chinese agent Maggie. Additions to the cast includes Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris. If you were born before the start of the 90s, you have no excuse for not knowing at least 10 of these well-known action heroes of old.
Director Simon West takes over the reins from Stallone and delivers an action-packed movie we hoped for in the original. As with the first movie, the scene is set with a successful mission when they rescue a kidnapped Chinese billionaire, which showcases the firepower and fighting skills of the Expendables and is filled with more than its fair share of cheesy one-liners. You would be forgiven if you felt a sense of déjà vu with the thought of having to sit through 100 minutes of torture. After what can only be described a sob story, most likely to add a sense of humanity to the seemingly barbaric heroes, the real action begins.
As the action heats up, the one-liners become part of every second sentence uttered, this time, though, it is well-timed, resulting in hilarious comedic moments. At this point viewers are transported to a simpler time in the 80s and 90s where old-fashioned action flicks ruled the box office. The Expendables 2 delivers what original lacked, a sense of nostalgia with loads of fun. This movie is far from the greats that will win you an Oscar, but there’s no way you cannot enjoy it for what it is.
Although it’s good to see so many of the action heroes of the previous generation, but some of the performances were a bit stale and forced. Schwarzenegger bares the biggest brunt of this, with most of his one-liners from the classic Terminator. It’s good to have Arnold back in an action movie, but in The Expendables 2, his best performance is a 2-minute scene with Bruce Willis when driving around in a small Smart Car. Some character roles seemed a bit short, mostly with Jet Li and Chuck Norris. Having said that, the best scene and one-liners is delivered by Chuck, while a western-themed soundtrack plays in the background. Inevitably, the ending is a dead give-away. But having set the scene early in the movie, you wouldn’t want it any other way. Definite Spoiler, please turn away now! You cannot ask for a better showdown: Stallone vs. van Damme, Rocky Balboa (Rocky) vs. Kurt Sloane (Kickboxer). Call it whatever you like, this fight scene capped a truly enjoyable, old-fashioned, butt-kicking, action movie filled with big guns, big explosions, and big guys (albeit quite old).