(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 25 August, 2012, retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/entertainment/reviews/article595463.ece)
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, and Nan Yu.
Director: Simon West
Rating: 3 stars
Maybe it was the publicity stills – that The Last Supper like pose; maybe it was the trailers – you know, the one with the plane crash and the tank rolling and the car zipping and the gunshots; maybe it was the fact that some of these people have kids who have kids who’re nearly my age; maybe it was the first Expendables movie. But I kinda sorta knew The Expendables 2 wouldn’t be a great film. And I kinda sorta knew I would probably like it more than I expected to.
I should be embarrassed to admit I had fun in a movie that prides itself on lines such as, “I now pronounce you man and knife”. But it’s worth your time, even when the script is co-written by Sylvester Stallone, to watch a flick where all these action heroes – or their body doubles – zoom across ropeways in single file.
This is the philosophy of the film: Blow things up, check. Carry big guns, check. Kill lots of people, check. Make fun of the bad-boy lines you made famous, check. Look beefy and dangerous when you’re in the 50-70 age range, check.
CIA Agent Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) wants payback from Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), in return for not locking him up in a dingy little hole. So, Ross and his band of mercenaries go on a mission to rescue a Chinese businessman – or so they think. Next thing you know, someone’s dead, and the Expendables are on a manhunt to “Track ’em, find ’em, kill ’em”, as the camera zooms in on determined faces.
If you’ve caught The Expendables, you know this crop has names that include Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), and Toll Road (Randy Couture). The plot of the sequel must have been even easier to cook up than those names. As must have been the name of the villain – Vilain (Van Damme).
Other attractions are: (a) the music – that to which Chuck Norris arrives, that to which gunshots are fired, and that to which the multiple vehicle chases and crashes are choreographed (b) The final showdown, which action movie heroes in their 30s and 40s have been salivating in anticipation of for decades (c) Waterwalls that can take down entire armies (d) Puns of the ilk of: “My big weapon is hanging right where it is.” (e) Rumours that Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Steven Seagal, and Nicolas Cage will star in the third edition.
The Verdict: When the director of Con Air makes an action film with an ensemble cast drawn from the 1980s, you know it’s going to be an hour and a half of guilty pleasure.