The Expendables 2 (2012)

Film review: The Expendables 2 (2012), directed by Simon West

expendables2Back in the summer of last year, when we saw The Expendables (2010) on DVD, I wasn’t a fan. Guys with guns, lots of shooting, dull script, yawn. And then they released another one. At the moment, I’m sort of half-hoping they’ll release a third one as well, as long as they can get hold of Clint Eastwood, Steven Seagal, Vin Diesel, Jackie Chan and … well, feel free to drop a comment on this post to suggest who else should be in it!

The Expendables, a group of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), are perhaps not so much hired by Church (Bruce Willis), but more like told to go and not fuck up another job for him. So they do. They go to retrieve something from a crashed plane in Albania and then end up in Russia trailing the baddie (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his cronies when the baddies inevitably end up with that thing they were meant to retrieve, and there are plenty of casualties wherever they go.

Oh, and this time, they brought along a woman, Maggie (Nan Yu), on the team.

Also starring Jason Statham as Lee Christmas, Jet Li as Yin Yang, Dolph Lundgren as the surprisingly brainy Gunnar Jensen, Terry Crews as  Hale Caesar, Randy Couture as Toll Road, Scott Adkins as Hector (eh, who?), Amanda Ooms as some woman, Charisma Carpenter as the to-be-Mrs Christmas, Liam Hemsworth as cannon fodder, with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench and Chuck Norris as Booker. Phew! There’s so much testosterone in that cast I feel like sprouting a beard.

Somewhere in here, I think there was some sort of story. There was less of the deplorable view of women (“you don’t hit her in the face!”, thereby implying that hitting her anywhere else is perfectly acceptable), if you disregard the comments about “who wouldn’t want to marry that?” with a shot of Charisma Carpenter’s bottom. At least they had Maggie, and she got to make herself useful. Not all the time, though, and they did mainly want her to stand around and not get shot, but on the other hand, she got to cut people up to get information out of them. So yeah. That’s how she rolls. (I wonder if she’s like to join our roleplaying party. She’d fit right in …)

This time, they played a bit more with the actors’ previous film careers, like having Schwarzenegger repeat lines from The Terminator, which at one point is really horrifically terrible in an exchange with Bruce Willis. It makes you groan. By the way, is it just me, or is Stallone a better actor than Schwarzenegger anyway? Arnie just comes off as incredibly wooden. (I know, right? It’s taken me this long to realise it?)

The best part of the film has got to be when Chuck Norris is first introduced. They play – in style! – with his online image of being the hardest man ever. “People carry guns for protection – guns carry Chuck Norris for protection”, and that sort of thing. I won’t give away the line he says, because it’s actually funny, believe it or not.

Perhaps because it’s a bit more playful, and because Van Damme without those sunglasses looks a little bit like a transvestite who’s lost his wig, the film doesn’t suck balls quite as much as the first one. It’s still an all guns blazing action no-brainer lacking eyecandy … unless you count li’l Hemsworth.

If you saw what I called Hemsworth in the cast list, no, it’s not a spoiler. Not really. From the moment he opens his mouth, you know he’s the film’s redshirt. He wants this to be his final mission, because on completion, he’ll have enough money to settle down to live happily ever after with a pretty nurse he met on duty in Afghanistan. See that humongous target that just appeared? You’re gonna die, son. It’s only a question of how far into the movie you’re going to get, and in what way you’ll be taken out, but you are not surviving to the end, mark my words.

You might want to call the film a wee bit predictable …

Also, I don’t really understand why they had to kick the doors off that Smart ForTwo either. It’s a surprisingly roomy car, even if you’re big. Granted, the Squeeze and I aren’t gun-toting beefcakes, but we’re not exactly small either, and we fit into one perfectly well, thank you. It’s not a bad little car.

Mostly, this film is about guns, shooting, explosions, maiming and killing. If you like that sort of thing, this film has a good body count. If you don’t like that sort of thing, it’s not worth it. The script isn’t interesting enough, the characters are bog-standard action heroes (who aren’t interesting), and while there are some fun bits – Chuck Norris – it’s nothing really worth it. My knitting was more entertaining.

2 out of 5 disused mines, because at least it was a slight improvement over the first one.

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