2012-08-17

The Expendables 2 –

by Yo Snyder

The Expendables got fans stirred up because Stallone,
Schwarzenegger and Willis were all going to be on screen together; and
they were. However, they didn’t really do quite what we were expecting
aside from trade a few quippy lines. Well, as is often the case with
most good sequels, The Expendables 2 delivers on the promise of
the previous movie, with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis trading
quippy lines while they also take down a whole lot of bad guys. Plus,
they’re joined by Chuck Norris, all together, all firing endless amounts
of ammo to take down bunches of generic cannon fodder. So, that alone
should pretty much help you know if this is a movie you want to see. If
the very idea of seeing that got you stoked, you won’t be disappointed
with Expendables 2. If that just sounds like shallow, pointless
and excessively violent; well yeah, it is, which is the point of it all,
which probably means this movie isn’t for you.

Expendables 2
distills the action movie genre down to it’s very basic action
movieness. It’s the result of trimming all the unnecessary fat from the
formula and keeping the bare essentials. That entails lots of guns, lots
of heroic poses holding the guns, bad guys that spawn like you’re in a
Call of Duty game, plenty of explosions, a plethora of tough sounding,
witty one-liners, and a villain with plenty of swagger and an evil
cackle. Oh, you do need some sort of basic plot to hang all of that one,
but it really doesn’t need to be one that’s very detailed. The Expendables 2
puts that all together and then ups the ante by populating the film
with some of the biggest names from the golden era of the action movie
and lets them just do their thing. It’s violent, it’s blood spattered,
it’s over-the-top, it’s highly improbable, and it is the epitome of that
bygone era of the true action film.

It’s also one of those rare
movies that understands the principle “if you’re going to put a gun in
the story, someone better pull the trigger” (and in the case of this
film, that’s often quite literal).  Basically this means that if the bad
guy does something really nasty with the knife of the hero, well then
he better get his comeuppance with that same knife. If a thug is going
to try and stare down Statham and disrespect him, it better be Statham
who takes him down. If a helicopter blade is whirling nearby during a
fight scene, it better be involved in the fight scene. Expendables
understands that all important principle, and never once are you let
down with a moment where you’re thinking, “Why even show or mention that
if you’re not going to do anything with it?”

Another good
example of this is the fact that we get to see Jean-Claude Van Damme
take on Sylvester Stallone mano-y-mano. Obviously if these two are in a
movie, and they aren’t allies, we want to see Rocky and Blood Sport
fight. Now, this fight doesn’t quite have the visceral thrills of the
battle between Vin Diesel and The Rock in Fast Five (these guys are a bit older),
but it’s still an awesome sight to see. Indeed, Van Damme seems to be
having a whole lot of fun in his role as essentially a Bond villain. He
has all the swagger and charisma one could want from a truly villainous
bad guy who does evil things because, well, he’s the bad guy. I wish he
had more scenes because it was just so much fun to see him having fun.
The rest of the cast also appears to be having a good time, although
Schwarzenegger does seem just a little off his game, but then it’s been
awhile since he’s done more than just a cameo. Oh, and Chuck Norris has
some of the coolest, and funniest, moments in the film. Again, it’s just
obvious he’s having a good time.

And…there’s not much more to
say about this movie. I mean, aside from these guys blowing stuff up and
shooting a bunch of guns and having some really cool fight scenes,
there isn’t a whole lot to this movie. It’s The Temple of Doom
re-envisioned as a Rambo-Die Hard adventure. It’s pure spectacle without
any substance, but that spectacle will probably make some giddy with
nostalgia and others grin with the sheer adrenaline of the fun. No, it’s
not a movie for everyone, but for those who can appreciate it for what
it is, they’ll probably leave the movie thinking, “That was one of the
greatest, straight-up action movies I’ve ever seen.” I know I did. 

Score: 5 of 7