Monday, September 10, 2012

Expendables 2

I love action movies. I grew up watching Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jean-Calude Van Damme and Chuck Norris with my dad, so imagine my excitement when all of those men teamed up for the Expendables 2. I was a fan of the first Expendables, but I was especially excited for the sequel due to the expanded cast.

As IMDb explains: “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.”

For those who don’t know, Mr. Church is the character played by the aforementioned Willis, who had a brief cameo in the first film. Likewise, Schwarzenegger, who plays Trench, only appeared for a minute in Expendables. Lucky for everyone, they were back in greatly expanded roles.

Now it’s important to remember that why this is an action film, but you have to take it with a grain of salt as it’s sort of a satire on the entire 1980-2000s genre. Sure, it’s a movie that takes itself seriously and has some merit, but it wouldn’t be the film it is without the over-the-top dialogue, body count, and of course the cast.

Admittedly, if the film starred a bunch of no names, it’d be terrible. The story is cliché (plutonium in the hands of a terrorist), but given the context of the film it’s brilliant and entertaining. With that said, the keystone of the film is the cast. Stallone was back as Barney Ross, while the Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Jet Li all reprised their roles. They all did a great job, but weren’t featured as prominently as they were in the first film; in fact, Li’s character, Yin Yang, was only in Expendables 2 for about the first 15 minutes of the film before promptly disappearing. I was also disappointed to see that Mickey Rourke, who was Tool in the first film, did not appear in the sequel.

Instead, more attention was paid to the film’s new additions like the aforementioned Willis and Schwarzenegger. The two weren’t prominent in the film, but they had plenty of screen time and even swapped some memorable lines (i.e. “I’m back” and “Yippie kay yay”) while kicking some major ass in a tiny car.

Another new addition was Liam Hemsworth, the brother of Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, who played Billy the Kid, a young sniper recently recruited by the Expendables. His character was still relatively young and innocent, at least by comparison as his compatriots, and he served as a reminder to the old guard of a life gone by—which helped fuel the film’s plot.

For me, the real draw to the film was bringing Norris and Van Damme into the mix. The latter was offered a role in the first film but turned it down because he thought it had little chance of success. Obviously he was wrong, so Van Damme agreed to play the film’s villain, Vilain (gotta love the names). It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Van Damme in anything respectable, so it was nice to see him here. Stallone has said that he enjoys helping reinvigorate stagnated careers, much like his own was a few years back, and I hope Van Damme's will benefit for his role in Expendables 2.

As far as Norris is concerned, he has to be the fan favorite. The 72-year-old wasn’t in the film too much, and at one point I thought his appearance might just be a cameo, but let’s just say he returns when it counts. Norris even poked fun at the legend he has become. When asked by Stallone’s character whether or not it was true he had been bit by a cobra, Norris character replies, “Yeah, and after five days of agonizing pain, the cobra died.” Norris hadn't been onscreen since 2005's lackluster The Cutter, but he lit it up and left me with a big smile in Expendables 2.

The film isn’t going to win any Academy Awards, but it was a lot of fun. Go in with some snacks and an open mind, and you’ll enjoy yourself. I was a little worried about the movie at times, but it finished strong and brought most everyone together for the climactic firefight. The only thing that could have made the Expendables 2 better was the addition of Steven Segal—but I guess they need something to complete the trilogy (fingers crossed).

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 71%

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