IT’S an action-packed extravaganza right from the hi-octane start to the kinetic end. Big bang explosions, flying knives, heavy gunfights and macho displays of martial arts moves. Not to mention copious amounts of blood splatter.
But the highlight of this sequel is the ensemble of action stars.
The film opens straight to the point, with a blazingly successful rescue mission by Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his band of mercenaries — Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), Caesar (Terry Crews) and Toll Road (Randy Couture).
They are then tasked by the elusive CIA agent Church (Bruce Willis) to retrieve a secret device with the help of a new member Maggie (Yu Nan).
What seems to be a simple job quickly turns into a disaster when the plan fails and one of them is murdered by a rival mercenary, Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who leads an Eastern European crime cartel.
The group’s mission to avenge its fallen member turns into a race to stop Vilain when they discover his nefarious plan to retrieve and sell a large quantity of weapons-grade nuclear material to eager buyers.
Clearly The Expendables 2 is more entertaining and satisfying to watch than its predecessor.
Stallone, who directed the first film, made a good decision in handing over the reins to Simon West this time round.
West, who has helmed a series of action films such as The Mechanic, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Con Air, delivers the action by the buckets while maintaining drama and lots of good humour.
Though the film is patchy in parts, with the story thinner than a waif and riddled with lots of action movie cliches, it’s all good natured. The action never disappoints and the ultra violence seems more Looney Toons than shocking.
But it’s strangely the calmer segments that highlights the film’s charms. The camaraderie among the team members is more natural this time and some of the idiosyncratic qualities of the wisecracking characters shine through.
Expect lots of cheesy one-liners and come-ons that hark back to the 1980s action movie genre. It’s all self aware and tongue-in-cheek which makes it even more enduring. Even when certain scenes are unintentionally funny, it still works in its favour.
The audience laughed out loud, cheered on and clapped during key moments in the film (look out for the hilarious Chuck Norris sequence), which says a lot.
There was a certain excitement in seeing the older action stars getting physical again, especially those who haven’t been onscreen for a while.
For those who grew up during the 1980s action movie genre boom, it was a nostalgic trip down memory lane. And although some of them looked obviously old (Stallone and Schwarzenegger are in their 60s while Norris is 70-something) they still managed to put on a good show and a display of macho bravura.
I’m pretty sure this bombastic and goofy action film will be a guilty pleasure for many cinemagoers and adrenaline junkies. Overall, The Expendables 2 is a silly but fun ride worth taking.
THE EXPENDABLES 2
Directed by Simon West
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jet Li, Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Yu Nan, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Duration 103 minutes