Only 2 years after their first outing, Sylvester Stallone & co are back once again for the eagerly anticipated The Expendables 2. The unique selling point that is the coming together of tough guys from era’s past and present failed to click last time out, but while that first effort may have been lacklustre, the sequel succeeds in delivering a thick slice of fun cinematic entertainment. If you’re a fan of action movies, this is a must-see.
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This time round, Barney Ross (Stallone) and his crew are sent off on a mission for the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) which promptly goes awry. Thereafter, carnage quickly ensues as Barney & co seek revenge on an unknown group of mercenaries – led by the gloriously named Jean Vilain (Jean Claude Van Damme) – who are stockpiling plutonium for sinister purposes.
That the plutonium is ultimately little more than a trivial detail underlines how straightforward the plot is, and the film plays out as predictably as you might expect. However, if you’ve seen any trailer for The Expendables 2, you’ll know that that matters little to the film’s target audience. What those promos tease is exactly what we get; explosions aplenty, violent and frenetic gunfights, and a variety of impressively choreographed hand-to-hand sequences occupy the screen right from the outset, and it is here where the film is in its element.
When you add in the surprising amount of excellent humour, then Simon West’s (taking over directorial duties from Stallone) follow up really begins to click and becomes a lot of fun. The Expendables drew criticism for taking itself too seriously, but thankfully that is no such problem here; everything from the plot to the action is handled in a very tongue-in-cheek and sometimes over-the-top manner, with some scenes punctuated with a reference to an 80’s film guaranteed to please die hard (pun intended) fans. Admittedly, there are times when the dialogue is unintentionally funny – Stallone is the main culprit here – but this is easily overlooked.
That Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger are not only in the same film but get to kick some serious ass together is a minor coup, and for the most part the old guard are on fine form. Although their acting acumen may have diminished along with their star power in recent years, it is insignificant when compared to the sheer joy derived from watching these 80’s icons fight alongside each other. Liam Hemsworth, Terry Crews and Dolph Lundgren all perform capably as the other expendables in the motley crew, but Jason Statham’s knife wielding Lee Christmas is the standout. Additionally, Chuck Norris makes brilliant use of his limited screen time with a very amusing cameo.
“Any Last Words?” The Expendables 2 is far from perfect, but it’s one of the most enjoyable action films of the year.
The Expendables 2 hits UK cinemas on Thursday. Watch the trailer below.