Director: Simon West
Writer: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Wenk (Story: Richard Wenk, David Agosto, Ken Kaufman / Characters: Dave Callaham)
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li
Release Date: August 17, 2012
The Expendables 2 improves on the original in a number of satisfying ways, but still leaves much to be desired in terms of originality.
The sequel to Sylvester Stallone's All-Stars commences with a most-promising bang! It's a 15-minute action sequence consisting of a siege, rescue and daring escape. There are motorcycles, boats, helicopter and a plane, a zip-line, snipers, hand-to-hand combat, knife and firearms galore. It's a bloody riot and the epitome of what The Expendables franchise should be. Unfortunately, it's also the best part of the whole movie.
Barry Ross (Stallone) is contracted again by their contact at the CIA (Bruce Willis). This time the Expendable are recruited to obtain a something or other from a downed plane in Albania. They end up crossing paths with the merciless likes of Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and having their work cut out for them. With a few new additions to the team (Liam Hemsworth, Nan Yu and even Chuck Norris), it's more or less the same drill this time around wherein we wait impatiently for the next combat sequence to begin with surprisingly lengthy stretches in-between.
The Expendables has the distinguishing factor of having characters who are frequently joking with each other. They make each other laugh more than the audience ever will. It seems like all involved are having a lot of fun, again, probably more than us. Each one-liner and painfully obvious reference (how many times do we need Schwarzenegger saying "I'll be back!"?) aggravates more than alleviates. The last half of the film grows particularly goofy in this regard.
I do feel The Expendables 2 is an improvement on this first. The action is certainly better captured this time around and occasionally more brutal. When Stallone and JCVD come to their inevitable one-on-one match, Vilain taunts Ross after knocking him to the ground: "Over so soon? I want my money's worth! Come on! Get up!" Audiences will feel that they got a better representation of what was advertised on the movie's poster. If the film had maintained the ferocity of what we experienced at the beginning, we'd have a modern classic of the genre on our hands. As is, we just have an above average sequel and not a whole lot else.