The Expendables 2
Directed by Simon West
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis
Rated R | 103 Minutes
Release Date: August 17, 2012
“I now pronounce you man and knife.”
Simon West (The Mechanic) takes over directing duties for Sylvester Stallone with The Expendables 2, the sequel to Stallone’s 2010 bullet-blasted action flick.
Written by Richard Menk (The Mechanic, 16 Blocks) and Stallone, The Expendables 2 features an all-star lineup of ’80s and ’90s action stars and their new school successors.
Led by Barney Ross (Stallone), The Expendables consist of blades specialist Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), and snipers Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), the new guy.
Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) assembles The Expendables for one more job, to retrieve an item from an airplane that was shot down in Albania. The team, accompanied by tech genius Maggie (Yu Nan), retrieve the item from the airplane but their victory is short-lived, after discovering that one of their own has been captured by Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). That’s right, the bad guy’s name is practically VILLAIN.
Joining The Expendables this time around are Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appeared briefly in the first film) and Booker, The Lone Wolf (Chuck Norris). While the dialogue is altogether disposable and mostly cliches and one-liners, Menk and Stallone were able to work a few Chuck Norris facts into the script, including this brilliant bit of banter:
Stallone: “I heard you were bitten by a cobra…”
Norris: “Yes, and after five days of excruciating pain… the cobra died.”
Terry Crews threatens to ‘terminate’ Schwarzenegger’s ass. Bruce Willis says, “I’ll be back!” while Schwarzenegger throws out a “Yippie-ki-yay!” and asks Stallone, “Who do you think you are? Rambo?” All that’s missing is a cameo by Vinnie Jones where he screams out, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”
Expendables 2 is downright laughable – a parody of ’80s action flicks – and that’s why it works. It’s one of those “Movies For Guys Who Like Movies,” a testosterone-fueled 18-wheeler hauling a load of machine gun fire, roundhouse kicks, and truck-flippin’ explosions.
Van Damme steals the show with his over-the-top bad guy schtick. At one point, he definitely channels Bloodsport and Kickboxer and delivers a jumping, spinning kick that propels a gigantic Rambo knife straight into the heart of his prey.
Beyond Van Damme’s theatrical performance, It’s nice to see Terry Crews (Terminator Salvation) get more action in this sequel. Had Crews been around Hollywood in the ’80s, he would have easily co-starred in dozens of action flicks with the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Hopefully Marvel green-lights a Luke Cage, Hero for Hire project soon and scoops up Crews as Harlem’s streetwise protector – he’d be perfect for the part!
And then there’s Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games), whose involvement with Expendables 2 must have been a case of mistaken identity. Maybe Stallone and the gang went after Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) but settled for his younger brother when Chris turned them down? He’s just out of place, no where near the caliber of bad-ass as guys like Jason Statham and Randy Couture.
Missing in action is Tool (Mickey Rourke), who apparently the producers are looking to bring back for the inevitable Expendables 3 sequel. Also rumored: Nicholas Cage, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood – at least, that’s their ultimate wish list.
Perhaps in Expendables 3 (or 4…) they’ll reach out to other action icons like Michael Biehn, Kurt Russell, Carl Weathers, Danny Trejo, Vin Diesel, and The Rock to add to their ever-expanding cast. Sadly, The biggest atrocity made by Stallone was killing off Paine (Stone Cold Steve Austin) in the first Expendables, because I’d love to see a cinematic showdown between Stone Cold and The Rock… complete with middle fingers and The People’s Eyebrow.
Overall, don’t expect the end-all, be-all of action flicks with Expendables 2. It certainly doesn’t hold a candle (or a fuse) to Gareth Evans‘ The Raid: Redemption or José Padilha‘s Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, but it is the kind of cinematic trash that will provide plenty of laughs for audiences craving cheesy dialogue and the ultimate gunpowder-and-gasoline bromance.