MOVIE REVIEW: Expendables 2

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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.

EXPLOSIVELY BAD

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 CAST IS THE THING

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☆☆