Expendables 2. Stallone. Statham. Willis. Schwarzenegger. Van Damme. Norris. Li. Lundgren. Couture. Crews. Explosions. Major Spoilers. More after the jump…

The Expendables 2
Director: Simon West
Writers: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Wenk, Ken Kaufman, David Agosto.
Staring: Sylvester Stallone. Jason Statham. Bruce Willis. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jean-Claude Van Damme. Chuck Norris. Jet Li. Dolf Lundgren. Randy Couture. Terry Crews. Charisma Carpinter.

Previously in Expendables: All the ageing action stars from older, better, movies came together to execute a simplistic plot, kill some folk, and blow some stuff up. And now they’re at it again.

Right up front, this is a pretty bad movie. It is a big, dumb action flick. The question is, “Is it fun?” The opening action scene answers that. It is ridiculous over the top action epitomised. There are huge reinforced trucks, with massive guns, barrelling through vehicles, destroying people. Bodies literally explode from the gunshot wounds. Heads disappear in clouds of red mist. There are things blowing up all over the place. Jet Li kicks the crap out of a guy, as does Jason Statham. Then they all get in to plane, and blow up a bridge, with MASSIVE explosions. THEN the title screen comes up.


Despite its many failings, or perhaps because of them, this movie is a whole lot of fun. The writing, dialogue, characterisation and plot are all poor at best. The music is loud and abrasive. The direction is uninspired. But the action is cool, with a truly astonishing body count. And it is great seeing all these action stars on the screen at the same time, which is the charm and point of the whole movie, so it doesn’t matter that everyone is pretty darn bad in it.

The writing is terrible, in just about every way. One of the first lines is “Come on you *expletive deleted*”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as everyone has at least one cringe-worthy line. When the gang are sitting around bickering, such as the bizarre Last Meal conversation, it can get a little unbearable. The plot, such as it is, is very simple and is there solely to facilitate the action: Opening Action- Plot/”character”- Action- Plot/intrigue- Action- Plot/shock- Action- Plot/slavery- Action- Climax- Credits.

Director Simon West, who brought us Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, is not terribly good at his job. The movie is quite uninspired, and isn’t particularly well shot. There was almost a cool iconic shot with some silhouettes, but it was botched. But crap does blow up REAL nice, and the fights are well done and exciting. The opening action scene is great, as are the ones at the end. They are way OTT, whereas the sequences in the middle are a little tamer. At the end of the day that’s all you’re looking for in a movie like this. Good action.


The main thing about this movie that you paid to see is the cast. The cast is huge, and there is a joy to be had in seeing Arnie, Bruce and Sly on screen together. However, as previously stated, everyone is pretty bad, falling afoul of lazy writing and poor direction. Arnie looks old. Sly just about gets away with it. Bruce still has it. Statham is great. Dolf is mental. Chuck is ironic. Couture and Tate are forgettable. Young Hemsworth actually acts, which stands out. Van Damme is brilliant, stealing the show as the oily bad guy. Despite all this, the movie ultimately plays out as a Stallone movie, with Statham and a great supporting cast, going up against bad guy Van Damme. And that is how this movie should be judged.

This is not a good movie. It is a bad movie. And as such it should not be judged alongside good movies, for it is, as previously stated, a bad movie. However, as bad movies go, this is a very good one. It is, in fact, awesome. Despite no bits being particularly good, except the action, it is a whole lot of fun. Definitely better than the first one, but that isn’t saying a whole lot.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

The Author

Cathal Ó Míocháin

Cathal Ó Míocháin

What to say...born in the last year of the seventies, the decade of the best music and movies, Cathal's earliest memories are of movies and comics. Star Wars, Batman, Superman and Indiana Jones filled his childhood, and not a whole lot has changed. He lives in Dublin, with his supremely understanding wife. Cathal voice his opinions across the various corners of The IntarWebs: @CatHaloMovies on The Twitter; Cat Halo Movies on The FaceSpace; and on the Major Spoilers Forum, where all manner of opinions are aired by all manner of folk on a wide variety of topics.

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  1. August 17, 2012 at 11:55 am — Reply

    It has Chuck Norris. That makes it good. ;-)

  2. August 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm — Reply

    Didn’t you hear, Chuck Norris is up for an oscar for this movie…as all critics have suffered roundhouse kick related deaths, and the academy is fearing for their lives.

  3. Jon
    August 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm — Reply

    “Director Simon West, who brought us Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, is not terribly good at his job.”

    Has to be one of the best lines in any review that I’ve read in quite some time.

    • August 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm — Reply

      If not the best, then at least the most accurate.

  4. Cat Halo
    August 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm — Reply

    I’ll happily take either, or both, as great comliments :)

  5. ryanchan
    August 18, 2012 at 4:46 am — Reply

    i did enjoy it and i would go and see it again for 2 reasons 1 to see chuck norris moments again, he just does have the best hard man image, and 2 to figure out if van dam acutaaly did round kicks do any of you remember that , you seen a shot of a shadowy figure doing round kick then camera showed stallon falling on back the camera with van dam saying stand up then camera of shadwy figure again doing round kick the camera shot of stallon going on his back again, it was like watching old movie and you new for sure it was stunt man but you dont want to say it out loud because you would be disappointed if it was

  6. Chris_in_Texas
    August 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm — Reply

    First off let me say, I am 41 years old. I was an 80’s teenager, so Stallone, Norris, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme, WIllis, and Lundgren, were the action gods of my generation. I love their movies, with a few exceptions.

    The problem with the Expendables franchise is this, most of these guys are still attempting to make action movies like they are in their 20’s and 30’s and it comes of a ridiculous and unbelievable. There was a time when this movie, with the right script and director, would have been an action juggernaut. That time sadly has past.

    I am not trying to diminish the accomplishments or the contributions that these guys made to the action movie genre. They are the pioneers, they made the action movie what it is today.

    I equate this movie to and old man in a night club, who is still trying to pick up 20 year chicks. Sure some of these guys can pull it off, but not like they could 30 years ago.

    Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but most of these guys are pushing 70. Are they in great shape? Short answer, yes. It seems as though, these great action stars are doing themselves a disservice, by not coming to the realization that they are senior citizens. No on wants to admit they are over the hill, but watching these action icons, on the big screen is becoming unbearable.

    I think these guy still have many great films in them, but not the hardcore action films that made them the icons that they are. A great example would be Clint Eastwood. Over Eastwood’s carrier, he transitioned from Dirty Harry to Gran Torino. While Gran Torino may not be an action movie per se, it does use mild action as a plot device. This in my opinion is the type of movies that the Expendables stars should focus on.

    Finally, this not a criticism of their talent. It is simply an observation, on the shelf life of an action star.

  7. August 20, 2012 at 7:56 am — Reply

    I love the movie. My only quip with it is that Jet Li was not in it after the opening scene. I thought the action scenes were fantastic. There were alot of funny bits. And I could not tell when the actors were replaced by doubles.

  8. b003
    August 21, 2012 at 12:04 am — Reply

    I’d hire those guys to get my Bourne Legacy refund!

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