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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Nov 21: The Expendables 2


Nov 21: The Expendables 2

"Mr. Church reunites the Expendables for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory and up against an unexpected threat."
Directed by: Simon West, Rated: R, 103 minutes

I was never a fan of The Expendables. The first film is a poor excuse to get a bunch of over-the-hill action stars on screen together and doesn't even try to tell a story. It's sequel, The Expendables 2 repeats a similar pattern but injects it with more humor, more action, and an actual story, even if it's still very weak. Unfortunately, when a sequel to a horrible film is just a tad bit better than its predecessor, it's still a bad movie, even when Chuck Norris makes an awesome appearance.

Not everyone on this poster is on screen that long...

Barney "Steroid Pumping" Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is the leader of a mercenary group known as The Expendables. Touring the world, saving people or doing the dirty work for cash, the group has developed a bit of a reputation.  Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) is in a nice position in that Ross and his men owe him a very large favor. Church sends the team to a foreign country (I already forgot where) to acquire the map to a plutonium mine that's sitting pretty in a crashed Chinese aircraft. Unfortunately for Ross, the villain, Vilain (Jean Claude Van Damme and yes his name is Vilain), shows up just as The Expendables are leaving and kills one of them while taking the map for himself. As any roid-raged man would, Ross swears vengeance for his fallen comrade and vows to track down and kill Vilain.

As silly as he is, Vilain kicks a knife into someones heart. Yes, you read that right. 

Director Simon West (Con Air) manages to create terrific action sequences that are both entertaining and badass. The body count is at an all-time high and the bullets, knives, and fists of our heroes murder everyone in their paths. It's fun to watch, yes, but there aren't as many action sequences as you would hope for. They pack quite a punch when they do occur, but the filler in between each explosion and decapitation is just white noise. Yes, I complained that the first film didn't have a story, but this time I around I wanted a bigger balance between the two. We don't need to hear back-stories or vulnerabilities about the characters as much as we just need to see them continue to rape the living shit out of every bad guy around. And we also need to see a lot more from everyone. The Expendables 2 turns into a Stallone and Jason Statham festival of who's manlier, and the second tier stars never really get a chance to shine. Jet Li, for instance, is around for about five minutes before he parachutes off the grid. Chuck Norris, who has a great introduction, lingers around for just as long, popping up for just another scene later on. The two legends, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis also only pop up for a brief moment, which is far from what you'd expect after seeing them plastered everywhere in the movie's advertisements. It's also a sad fact when Terry Crews, Randy Coutre, and even Dolph Lundgren become just footnotes to the movie, as they really don't have any genuine "look-at-me!" awesome moments.

Do not deny me more Old Spice. 

The Expendables 2 is a tricky film to give a real rating to. It's over-the-top and full of action, yes, and it's just as cheesy and full of one-liners as you'd expect, so it does deliver on those promises. But, as a film merely on its own, it's severely and disgustingly flawed. The bits of story thrown at the meat parade (non-sexual kind) are lacking and any emotion we're supposed to actually feel for these chiseled men out of their prime is missing just as much.  When more focus is put on this aspect, you need more behind it to keep things interesting. And, if you don't have that, but then juice up the movie with a lot of fluff, your audience is left terribly bored when shit's not exploding. I can't say I was expecting more from the film, as again, it IS The Expendables 2, but I still know it's missing something. As the franchise grows and more AARP member actors enter the fray, maybe some masterpiece will come out of it... yeah, right. 

The Good:
action sequences that kick a lot of ass and a few moments of Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme
The Bad:
those sequences are far and few between and the fluff between everything drags on for far too long
The Ugly:
knowing the idea behind these films was never really great to begin with, and the continuation of the franchise can only lead to worse things

Overall: 6.0/10

Discussion Question:
Should these movies even exist or has Stallone just lost his marbles?


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At November 22, 2012 at 6:58 AM , OpenID daveexaminesmovies said...

For the discussion question: I think these movies should exist. The first one really was a pooper, but the second proved they have it in them to facilitate a humorous side. They went up, so I can say it can still go up

At November 22, 2012 at 10:12 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Well let's hope that 3, 4, 5, 6, RIP Stallone keep getting better.

At November 22, 2012 at 11:45 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

Usually I'm a story guy, but this kind of film is not really story driven but action driven (by stars in the driver and passenger seats). This movie sells itself on the "Action Stars", in other words people who want to see this want to because it has Sly, Arnold, Bruce, Jean Claude, and Chuck OMG Norris!!!
It was right up my alley and has a high repeatability quotient because there are continuous action sequences. If one doesn't work, hold on five minutes, there will be another one. Jet Li didn't need to stick around because he would be hard pressed to top his early fight scene. They make us wait for the showdown at the end between Sly and JCVD, and when it comes it is a testosterone fueled pissing contest.
Keep them coming so all we have to enjoy is not Jason Statham by himself. Stars like these remind me why the 80s ruled but the 2000s don't.

At November 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM , Blogger Nick said...

You make some valid points, yes. But I still can't find much love for these films. Maybe it will click come Expendables 25. Who knows?


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