EXPENDABLES 2, THE
The Expendables are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists them to take on a seemingly simple job. But when one of their men is murdered, the Expendables are determined to seek revenge - in hostile territory - where the odds are stacked against them. The crew cuts a swathe of destruction through their opponents, wreaking havoc and barely shutting down the unexpected threat of five tons of weapons-grade plutonium, more than enough to change the balance of power in the world.
Review by Louise Keller:
You can almost feel the spray of the alpha male in this ballsy action adventure filled with bulging muscles, heavy artillery and massive stunts. Once again, it's raining bullets and knives with plenty of brute force intended to impress. It's unashamedly all about the testosterone and being in the company of an imposing bunch of the screen's best-known tough guys who are almost caricatures of themselves. With the directing reigns passed to Simon West this time, Sylvester Stallone has more time to work on his gravel-voice as he leads the pack of mercenaries on their wildly preposterous mission. It's not as good as the first film but if it's mindless bloody action you want with a few wry laughs and you've had a rough day at the office, this will undoubtedly shake the cobwebs.
The big budget opening action sequence in Nepal is a bit like a terrorist jumble sale on steroids - it's got a bit of everything. There are huge explosions, tanks crashing through walls, a daring rescue involving a flying fox, speed boat, jet skis and sea plane, and the line 'I can't get it up', when Sly struggles with the controls as he manoeuvres the plane to clear a bridge, gets a laugh.
Don't worry too much about the plot which involves getting the contents of a safe from a plane wreck in China without being blown up and keeping a large amount of plutonium from falling into the wrong hands in Russia. What's the plan, we are asked? 'Track 'em, find 'em, kill 'em' is the gravel-voiced reply. Jean Claude Van Damme, wearing stylish shades and carrying a razor-sharp knife that reflects like a mirror, is ultra smooth and extremely convincing as the villainous Jean Vilain.
It's good to see Arnold Schwarzenegger back on screen booming 'I'm back' with good natured self-deprecation. Jason Statham is in good form, Dolph Lundgren pulls great faces, Terry Crews' humongous pecs have to be seen to be believed as Hale Caesar and Bruce Willis looks small. Plus there's Liam Hemsworth, Jet Li and the wonderful Chuck Norris (who came out of retirement for the role). Nan Yu plays the combat efficient token female who also thinks well.
It's bloody, violent and loud with a booming music score to enhance every explosion and massive stunt. The climax comes by way of a deadly and thrilling face off between Stallone and Van Damme. There are some funny lines and everyone looks as though they are all having a blast in these ultra macho stereotypical roles. Although the film doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is - a big budget Hollywood shoot-em-up movie crammed with stars - its themes of honour and loyalty give it a basic sense of decency.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Watching Sly Stallone and his team of veteran tough guys storm around like a giant video game, you can't help thinking this is their updated and upgraded version of playing Cowboys & Indians. With much bigger guns, badder baddies and louder yelling. The clever thing about the Expendables, though, is that while it doesn't take itself too seriously and there are a few self deprecating nudges and wink-winks, it manages to maintain enough gravitas to ensure we are excited, thrilled, white knuckled and jumpy as the adventure goes from terrifying to catastrophic.
Everything is bigger than it needs to be - but it needs to be to outgun The Expendables, which proved to everyone that Stallone's idea works. Collecting every high profile action star under one banner and throwing them into major danger is a recipe for a highly popular, escapist roller coaster.
This time, the filmmakers were boldened to bring in a female fighter, the lovely Nan Yu playing Maggie - the smart one. Of course, she can hold her own in a fight, too.
The massive stunts, the rusty but trusty old plane, the bombastic bazookas and monster machine guns that rattle off a million rounds of ammo in just over 100 minutes, and there are just enough moments of real drama and pathos to give the film a bit of emotional ballast. Still, it's hard to argue against the criticism that it's profoundly cynical in its appeal to the lads in all the men, but it's so darned well done you just have to shrug your shoulders.
Besides, there is the pleasure of seeing Arnie back with a (large) gun in his hand, cracking the odd joke at his own and his team's expense, and all the collected weight of a thousand years of action hero experience to call on. Van Damme it, it's a blast.
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EXPENDABLES 2, THE (MA15+)
CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Liam Hemsworth, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nan Yu, Charisma Carpenter, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews
PRODUCER: Basil Iwanyk, Avi Lerner, Danny Lerner, Kevin King Templeton, John Thompson, Les Weldon
DIRECTOR: Simon West
SCRIPT: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Wenk
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shelly Johnson
EDITOR: Todd E. Miller
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Cross
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 30, 2012