The Expendables 2 is a follow-up to the 2010 film, The Expendables. The hook of this franchise is gathering some of the greatest action heroes of all-time together into a single over the top action adventure and The Expendables 2 is no different. Directed by Simon West and written by Richard Wenk, the film stars an array of Hollywood A-list talent including Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Expendable 2 is an action film, plain and simple. Though the story is very basic, it never feels convoluted and sets a nice backdrop for the films progression.
The story begins with our team of mercenaries conducting a successful operation to secure a Chinese businessman, held captive in Nepal. Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is then forced by a CIA Operative known as Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to retrieve a case, containing secret information from a crashed plane. When Barney and his team make their way to the plane, they are met by a group of terrorists led by Jean-Claude Van Damme. They force the case into their possession and after some brutal circumstances that eventuate in a death of one of their squad; lead our band of misfits to chase down this group of terrorists. In search of the case containing the location of buried plutonium and some much needed revenge.
One of the great positives of The Expendables is the chemistry these actors are able to produce, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and Barney are able to provide some witty banter that will gain some good laughs. Their relationship also feels very real, it mirrors the relationship two old friends have between each other and becomes very easy relate too. There is also a scene where all of the main characters in the team, sit around for nothing more than a conversation about their favourite meal, sounds basic? It is, but it is done perfectly, The Expendables is not a deep film and it never tries to tug your heartstrings. This scene pulls off the friendly comradely these characters have for one another, containing some really genuine conversation that comes off brilliantly.
Even though Expendables keeps up the action, it is able to provide some great laughs through some cheesy dialogue. Some scenes in particular will break the fourth wall and acknowledge actors previous movies, with Terminator, Die Hard 4 and a fan favourite Chuck Norris joke thrown in. These references will provide a great laugh for those paying attention, it is a great throwback to fans of action films. Its simple things such as this that make the film a joy to watch; sure you will never get a major twist or a narrative that is in-depth and compelling. But the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself seriously, makes the film more enjoyable. Thrillers and narrative driven pieces of cinema are interesting, they allow your mind to work and enjoy a deep and meaningful story. Sometimes though a film that provides entertainment and some fun sequences is the film that wins you over in the end, Expendables 2 is up that alley.
With such a basic plot, the film needed to grab viewer’s attention with its action scenes, which is another big positive for the film. The action sequences provide some great entertainment, especially when it comes to the fight scenes. Jason Statham is able to show off some tremendous martial art skills, with some brutal fight scenes involving a lot of knife throwing, but they become one of the standouts when the film is over. The film as fun as it may be, does however have its flaws.
With such a huge line-up of Hollywood superstars, one of the biggest issues is screen time. Though almost every actor has their one or two massive moments, some are barely touched upon throughout the movie. Making them feel forgotten at times for in replace of a random big name cameo. The cameos are well done and as I said previously, make for some creative dialogue. Yet the issue is extremely visible once the film ends, with Jet Li, Terry Crews and Randy Couture’s characters all getting what seems to be barely 10 minutes of actual solid film time each. Sure they are in the action, but they play little part in the film and this makes becoming attached to these characters extremely difficult.
As I stated previously, the narrative is very basic and may not be compelling enough for some viewers. It doesn’t do much to grab you and the opening scene where death hits the squads, feels empty. It mainly serves as the main plot point to send our band of mercenaries on their adventure, it made sense in the story overall but it was barely given any time to leave a moment viewers connected with. Before going to see this film you need to decide if these drawbacks will affect your experience.
If you go into Expendables 2 expecting a ground breaking narrative, with really in-depth character progression you will leave disappointed. If you are looking for that blockbuster Hollywood action film, with over-the-top action, the odd laugh and some very well choreographed fight scenes then it will surely deliver. Providing some of the greatest action heroes of past, present and future all on one screen in an amazing feat in itself, even though some characters are underutilized you will be in an overload of adrenaline and quoting way to many Terminator lines to care.
Jamie Briggs looks after Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and his videos on YouTube.