Old people just don't know when to quit. Sylvester Stallone and the rest of his washed-up gang are back in The Expendables 2, a dumb, silly sequel to a movie that needed to be dumber and sillier. The first Expendables was a big, fat disappointment for a multitude of reasons. The Expendables 2 proves that low expectations can pay dividends. Sort of.
The Expendables 2 is not a good movie by most definitions.It has terrible special effects, bad acting, a generally plot-less story and minimal character development. And yet The Expendables 2 harkens back to action movies of old in a way the original did not, and for that reason it should be commended.
Another reason for commendation: Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger expand beyond cameo roles this time around, while Chuck Norris joins a cast that includes Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Liam Hemsworth. Jet Li, unfortunately, is reduced to a cameo appearance.
In the movie, the team goes up against a villain cleverly named Vilain, played by none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme. Story is essentially useless, but after Vilain kills one of their own, the Expendables vow revenge. Most of the movie, directed by Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Mechanic), involves gunfights and fistfights and not much more. Lots of people die, and plenty of cheap CGI blood is spilled.
Schwarzenegger and Willis drive around in a tiny electronic car firing machine guns.
While there is plenty of action that will satisfy fans longing for the action films of old, The Expendables 2's biggest problem is its lack of character development, or at the very least interesting moments exchanged between the various characters. The first movie attempted to evoke humorous chemistry between the leads; it failed miserably, but at least it tried. In its sequel, the characters move from one action scene to the next with little real interaction. Even Stallone is given little to do other than look angry and shoot guns.
Like the original, The Expendables 2 attempts nostalgia by throwing a bunch of action stars together with little regard for giving them defining characters or a compelling story. Stallone became an action star because he was Rambo, and Rocky. Schwarzenegger, because he was the Terminator. Willis, John McClane. These men are icons, but they are icons because they were defined by the characters and stories that put them on the map. The Expendables 2, like its predecessor, forgets this important element. It isn't a complete wash - after all, low expectations pay dividends (sort of) - but for this reason the franchise will never succeed as Stallone originally intended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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