I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to talking about The Expendables 2. I’m a really big Stallone fan, as you may have noticed by the fact that I put up a lot of Stallone news from time to time. He’s by far my favorite action star and has made some highly enjoyable films like First Blood, Over the Top, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger, Judge Dredd, Rambo, The Expendables (to name a few). You can argue the quality of some of those films but I love them and I’m not ashamed to admit it. That doesn’t mean I like everything that Stallone is in of course, but if he’s in it, I sure as hell will give it a shot. The reason being because Stallone has made two films that I deem as being quintessential to my love of movies. Rocky, and the years later (truer in tone) sequel, Rocky Balboa, are films that are beyond inspirational. Rocky Balboa, in particular, came at a time when people looked at Stallone as a has-been and as someone that was trying to cash in on his previous glory. I think Rocky Balboa proved that just because you’re old and have gone out of fashion, it doesn’t mean you don’t have something worthy of saying, something to contribute. I think it was his message to the world that he’s still here, he’s fighting and he’s not giving up. Ever since then, Stallone has been on a crusade to entertain us and age hasn’t slowed him down. In The Expendables 2, he’s still taking names and reminding us why he’s a badass.
The Expendables 2 opens up with a big action scene that rivals the finale scene from the first film. Explosions, big guns and exploding body parts accentuate the arrival of my favorite team of mercenaries. It’s a big and bold statement saying, “We’re back!” Stallone and crew know that the reason you are coming to see the movie is for the action and holy shit does it deliver. This is The Avengers of action stars and each actor gets their moment to shine. Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Van Damme, Norris, Li, Crews, Couture, Hemsworth, Adkins, Yu.. Willis and Schwarzenegger! That list of names all in one place is something I literally didn’t think could ever happen and still can’t believe it. As a fan of a lot of these action legends, this is a dream of a movie and it’s so satisfying that the end result is just insanely fun.
The Expendables 2 won’t wow you with its depth of story or character. If that is what you’re hoping to get out of these movies, you may be missing the point. This is about men with legendary charisma fighting with guns and their fists to entertain audiences worldwide and provide an adrenaline-inducing good time. They are there to provide us with the stuff of legend, men who go up against the bad guys, who not only prevail, but obliterate their enemies. They are showing us that we don’t need CG-assisted action or wire-fu. We just need good old-fashioned guys-beating-the-crap-out-of-each-other type action. As they say in the film, “there’s nothing like a classic.”
There’s a lot about The Expendables 2 that I love. Yes, the action is tons of fun and it’s actually rather funny too. However, what did it for me most though, was to see Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis on screen together, in the same shot, shooting up a bunch of bad guys. That was a dream come true. Three of the biggest action stars of the 80s and 90s were sharing the frame together in gun-blasting glory. I was in awe and after seeing that, I want more. If The Expendables 3 happens, I’ll be wanting to see what action stars they add to the mix of course, but what I’ll really be hoping for is more screen time with those three legends.
In what seems to be a trademark of The Expendables franchise, there are some standout fights in the film. Jet Li gets a fun sequence right away. Jason Statham fights a bunch of guys while wearing a hooded priest outfit and performs his fight choreography with precision and power. There’s a reason why he’s an action star. But my favorite fight was the one-on-one between Stallone and Van Damme. Two different fighting styles, both equally as brutal. Stallone unleashes on Van Damme right away like a machine, delivering major blows with his fists. That would normally put anyone down, but this is a movie, you can’t defeat your enemy so quickly (there’s an audience to entertain!) so Van Damme retaliates with his brand of graceful power. They trade blows back and forth until they’re both exhausted and bloody before one takes out the other. I’m not going to spoil who wins, even though it’s pretty easy to predict who will be victorious.
If I had one complaint about The Expendables 2, it would be that there is some pretty shoddy CG work in it. It doesn’t really affect the action scenes much, but rather, if a helicopter is flying through the sky, it’s pretty obvious that it isn’t real. I can’t complain too much though because it’s not a major issue and I’d rather the budget go to hiring all these action stars than provide exceptional CG. I know some people had some complaints about the original film (I didn’t, I had a hell of a time with the movie) and I think those complaints are mostly addressed in The Expendables 2. The movie is definitely more self-aware and the tone of the film doesn’t allow it to get too serious, allowing the hyperbolic action to sit well with audiences.
The Expendables 2 is incredibly fun, often comedic and may just be one of the most satisfying summer movies this year. You absolutely need to go see it in the theater. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a movie in which Chuck Norris actually makes a Chuck Norris joke?!
by Ben McBride