Movie Review: The Expendables 2
Length: 102 minutes
Release Date: August 17, 2012
Directed by: Simon West
Genre: Action / Adventure
Stars: 4 out of 5
The boys are back in town, and this time, there are more explosions, longer action sequences and higher stakes. "The Expendables 2" follows the same format as the first installment, and Lionsgate hopes this sequel will be just as successful as part one. Those who have not seen the film's predecessor will still get a kick out of this nonstop thrill ride. This explosive film stars every action hero with an AARP card, and the result is more exciting than anyone could have imagined.
When the movie opens, the band of merry bad boys is on another rescue mission in some remote part of the world. The motley crew includes British brawler Jason Statham, martial arts master Jet Li, respected athlete Dolph Lundgren, football hero Terry Crews and wrestling powerhouse Randy Couture. These are some of the biggest, roughest men ever to grace a movie screen, and from the opening sequence, it is clear that the action, explosions and hysterics have been amped up.
Audiences shouldn't expect a great deal of plot development from a film like this. While it's not there, it's not really missing, either. Viewers probably aren't hoping to see Shakespeare in the Park; they are expecting a high-octane adventure with explosions, chases, danger and fight scenes that would put anyone on the edge of his or her folding seat. If that is where your expectations fall, then this film more than delivers.
When it comes to action movies, few stars are bigger than Sylvester Stallone. He played the title characters in both the Rocky and Rambo franchises and also showed his muscle in memorable films such as "The Specialist," "Cobra" and "Cliffhanger." Stallone brought his star power to "The Expendables 2" and helped pen the screenplay with Richard Wenk. This movie bears Stallone's trademark wit, and the 66-year-old actor added a few surprises and cameos to keep viewers on their toes. Stallone built his career as a man of action, and he knows what his fans want to see. The Italian Stallion looks at least 20 years younger than his age and can more than keep up with the likes of Statham, Crews and Couture. With biceps as big as a Thanksgiving turkey and the physique of an Olympic body builder, Stallone looks like he did in his prime. Those that believe he is too old for this type of work are going to rethink that position by the end of the film.
Jason Statham may be one of the new kids on the action block, but he has a string of box office successes behind him. Known for his work on the "Transporter" films, this Brit may be the film's biggest draw. As Leo Christmas, he is brutal, daring, brave and easy on the eyes. He takes down scores of villains with knives, guns, brass knuckles and good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat. One memorable scene, staged in a church, may be the best fight sequence in the entire film. It's utterly spectacular, and Statham fans are sure to approve.
Newcomers Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu round out the cast and breathe fresh life into the ensemble. Hemsworth makes an appearance as Billy, the group's young protégé. With his baby face and sweet demeanor, this polite boy is seemingly out of place. However, Billy brings some needed innocence to the film, and his character serves as a catalyst for the story. Nan Yu, a seasoned Chinese actress, portrays Maggie, a combat-proficient agent who contributes brains to the group. Assigned to the team by the reclusive Mr. Church, Stallone and the gang must protect her as she retrieves a secret item from the wreckage of a mysterious plane. It's nice to see a little estrogen in the mix, and this beauty holds her own alongside some of the biggest names in the business.
A movie of this genre would not be complete without a seriously bad villain, and "The Expendables 2" found the right guy for the job. In the 1980s, Jean-Claude Van Damme racked up street cred in such films as "Bloodsport" and "Kickboxer." Now in his 50s, this martial arts aficionado is light on his feet and still able to pull off his trademark kicks. It's been a few years since Van Damme fans have seen what he can do, and he will not disappoint in this ensemble action film.
"The Expendables 2" is a guilty pleasure film that will appeal to thrill seekers, action lovers and fans of the film's able-bodied stars. It is one of the must-see films of the dwindling summer season and is sure to have audiences clamoring for another installment.