Review: The Expendables 2
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
The worlds biggest action stars are back en mass again with The Expendables 2...
With more one liners, explosions, shoot-outs and kung-fu than a 14 year old's idea of the best video game ever, it's obvious to see the crew are back. All the stars are trotted out (some carried out in Schwarzenegger's case). The cast from the original film are back, lead by Barney Ross- played by the ever incomprehensible Sylvester Stallone - and joined by new recruit Maggie, played by Nan Yu. Its a tale of brothers in arms out for revenge against Claude Van Damme's villain after he murders one of the expendables crew whilst they were on a apparently easy job. Cue a chase across eastern Europe littered with bullets, blood and explosions.
Now for any of you out there that haven't seen the first film, don't worry. Most of the premise of this film, as well as the main characters, are all explained in the first 15 minutes of the movie. On a rescue mission to free a Chinese business man, we get to see what the boys are all about. Hulking military vehicles with bold catchphrases pasted all over them show us how ballsy these guys are. A battering ram has the words 'knock knock' - big and bold. Evidently these guys enjoy their work. Its a shame that Jet Li, playing Yin Yang, is only present in this part of the film. Echoing some of the comedic fights more associated with Jackie Chan, he takes on four villains using a set of pots and pans. Pure action comedy at its finest. The opening act also builds upon Barney and Lee Christmas's (played by Jason Statham) relationship, meaning there’s no need to know anything about the first film to enjoy everything on display here.
After a daring escape involving one bad ass plane firing tank shells - and the expendables are back home in the good ol' US - Barney is presented with a mission by Mr Church (Bruce Willis) who is willing to clear Barney's name of any past felonies if he undertakes one simple mission. Barney has no choice but to accept, as well as bring along Maggie on request of Church. Nothing goes to plan, as Van Damme shows up with his thugs, having captured the teams newest member, Liam Hemsworth as Billy the Kid . Maggie gives into pressure and hands over what the group of hulked up heroes had come to retrieve; the location of a store of Plutonium. Mr Damme isn't a man to play fair, and Murders Billy with Barney's knife, citing a lack of respect to be the reason. Fueled by a new hatred and a duty to stop one crazed Belgium from destroying the world, the new mission at hand is simple - “Track 'em, find 'em, kill 'em.”
Oh boy, and what a lot of killing there is. Give enough money and guns to a group of the most well known action heroes of all time, and there’s gonna be violence. There isn't more than ten minutes between each weapon-saturated fight, and there are a ridiculous amount of set pieces that just need to be seen to be believed. Stand out moments include Willis and Schwarzenegger in a smart car (which they rip the doors off all macho like), driving by and shooting bad guys, a shoot out in a Russian town made to look like an American street and announcing their entrance with a plane through the front door.
The stand out performance for me has got to be Jason Statham. I love his other films (especially Crank 2) since they were balls to the wall crazy. His fight against Van Damme's second in command goes to show some great martial arts expertise, and if you have seen Raiders of the Last Ark, then you know how a spinning propeller can end a fight. However great that is, nothing can compare to his surprise attack on a gang of thugs trying to kidnap children to work in the plutonium mines. Emerging from a churches back room, draped in monks robes he explodes as the bad guys interrogate him. Knives fly from his hand, as he dances round the room slaughtering all those present. Such a poetic ballet of death just cements how awesome he is. What’s brilliant is that he is the only British actor in the cast, bringing something quite different in terms of on screen persona.
Of course I can't not mention Chuck Norris in a review of The Expendables 2. Although he isn't playing himself as such, he is playing up to those well known internet Chuck Norris facts. He's a lone wolf who helps out the expendables in a critical moment, although it's a little disappointing that none of his martial arts expertise is used or seen. However, all those of you that know the famous quote about the rattle snake biting Chuck Norris will know just how tongue in cheek the film can be.
So what else can be said. No, this film isn't going to make you think long and hard about your life, nor will it win any best screen play awards. However this is a pure piece of explosive cinema that’s there for people to enjoy. You'd have to have a steely cold heart to not find some joy in the non stop action. Its not big, and its not clever, but by all things explosive is it ballsy and fun!
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