Starring – Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Nan Yu, and Scott Adkins with Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Written by Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone, Ken Kaufman and David Agosto based on characters created by Dave Callaham and Sylvester Stallone.
Directed by Simon West
Sylvester Stallone returns with his group of fellow action film heroes known as The Expendables for another bombastic cinematic outing in Expendables 2. This time out Sly passes over the directing reigns to Simon West and brings along Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu for the ride, with extended contributions from Willis and Schwarzenegger. So is the second time a charm for this action franchise?
We catch up with our gang as they invade a Middle Eastern country stronghold in search of a Chinese diplomat/businessman who has been kidnapped. Barney Ross (Stallone) along with his compatriots Lee Christmas (Statham), Yin Yang (Li), Gunner Jensen (Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Crews) and Toll Road (Couture) barge into the compound with guns a blazing and destroy everything in sight. After an unexpected run in with competitor Trench (Schwarzenegger), the crew grabs their target and escapes with the help of the newest member, sniper Billy the Kid (Hemsworth). Once airborne over mainland China they parachute out the target with Yang attached (Li was only available for a limited amount of shooting days) and head back home. But there is no rest for Barney and crew as they are sent back out by Church (Willis), as a means for repaying the lost revenue from the antics of the first film, to retrieve a special package from a crashed plane. Saddled with an expert for the retrieval named Maggie (Yu), the group heads out, but as with all missions from Church, nothing is as it seems. Ambushed by Jean Vilain (Van-Damme) and his crew, including the equally menacing Hector (Adkins), the crew loses one of their own in the process and vows to avenge their fallen comrade. Along the way hundreds die, we meet the “Lone Wolf” Booker (Norris), and even Trench and Church themselves get involved in the fray as they all vow to take down Vilain.
The Expendables 2 is a lot more fun than its predecessor, utilizing an over the top, tongue in cheek attitude that was lacking from most of the first film. Expendables 2 knows it’s going to be silly and violent with deaths galore and rehashes of all of your favourite 80/90’s catchphrases. The script contains some utterly ludicrous dialogue, but that’s not what you are seeing this for, is it? Stallone and crew deliver exactly what you’d expect them to, with a little more character development, but not enough to slow down the explosions. Schwarzenegger is around for pretty much an extended cameo this time around, spouting competing catchphrases with Willis gleefully and blowing away bad guys with a gun liberated from Crews’ Caesar. New additions Hemsworth and Yu have little to do here as the main good guy crew is already established from the first film and they never manage to fully integrate into the line-up. Jean-Claude is deliciously evil as the antagonist of the film, he’s a real joy to watch on screen, and Adkins is very menacing, while his final fight with Statham is fantastic. But now we come to the real reason to watch this film – Chuck Norris.
With all his scenes probably clocking in at a total of 15 minutes, Norris’ Booker is a complete bad-ass and his presence is mesmerizing. It’s fantastic to see the man who once fought Bruce Lee back onscreen again and his character immediately harkens back to some of his more bad-ass characters from the 80’s, like the “implicated” Lone Wolf McQuaid. Director Simon West keeps the action turning and delivers a crisp film that keeps up the pace throughout. A step up behind the director’s chair from Stallone in the first, perhaps due to the acting/directing split duties, West really delivers here and we can only hope for his return in the inevitable part 3.
Knowing what it is from the beginning until the very end, The Expendables manages to remain loud and bombastic throughout and thoroughly entertaining in the process. The Expendables 2 is a definite recommend for those who love a good action flick.
The Expendables 2 open in theaters nationwide Friday August 17th.
Till Next Time
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