Action heroes have changed.
Action heroes have changed.
These days they’re all thinking men with crafty moves, flashy gadgets
and improvisational skills that turn any household object into a deadly
weapon. But back in the ‘80s they
built them huge; muscle-men with biceps the size of tree trunks lugging around
guns the size of trains, taking on armies of men single-handed and emerging
from the battlefield with little more than a conveniently placed scar. So to call The Expendables 2, the sequel to 2010’s hit film, a throwback is
akin to saying Arnie and the likes are getting a little long in the tooth for
This time out the
team of mercenaries that is The Expendables are forced into taking a job by CIA
spook Church (Bruce Willis) to atone
for their sins of the last film.
So, led by Barney Ross (Sylvester
Stallone), the team head out to retrieve a computer, in a downed plane,
which contains the location of a forgotten Soviet stash of Plutonium. But villainous warlord Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) takes the
blueprint and kills one of their number meaning The Expendables have no choice
but to wreak bloody revenge.
Thankfully along the way they recruit Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), rely on Lee Christmas’ (Jason Statham) banter and Gunnar
Jensen’s (Dolph Lundgren) insane
and all the recent ‘men on a mission’ films we’ve been treated to, are aimed at
the Call Of Duty generation. Those who enjoy nothing more than
sitting at their computers blowing up faceless bad-guys with an array of guns
large enough to make subscribers to Guns & Ammo wet themselves with sheer
excitement. It’s for those who
like their action brash, over-the-top and blood-spattered to the point of
gleefully gory. The Expendables
don’t fight the Taliban or evil oil barons, they kill bullet sponges; men who
are nothing more than fleshy meat-sacks with which to pump lead into. And with all the muscles on display
it’s hard not to see The Expendables as some kind of Steroid Dozen.
In other words if
big action silliness is not your thing then you’d be better off moving onto
something with a little more substance, and plot for that matter. This is not to say The Expendables 2 is
not fun, it is, stupidly so. At no
point does the film take itself too seriously, instead reveling in the sheer
ludicrous nature of the whole thing.
When you cast the likes of Sly, Arnie, Willis and Dolph Lundgren in a
film, not to mention having Van Damme playing a bad-guy called ‘Vilain’, you
know that nothing is meant to be taken with anything other than a joyous
smile. Arnie and Willis exchange
“I’ll be Backs!” and “Yippee ki-yays” while in one particular moment of
nostalgic brilliance Arnie demands a big gun, and when Arnie demands a big gun
you better damn well give it to him.
Sure the dialogue
is appalling; any film in which someone turns to Bruce Willis and uses the line
“male pattern badness” should be sent to the naughty corner. It’s all in the spirit of trying to
capture a semblance of ‘90s screenwriter supremo Shane Black (he of Lethal
Weapon fame) magic and it’s fair to say it fails on this count. Thankfully director Simon West, who is no stranger to big
action movies having director Con Air
and The Mechanic, knows how to
execute a viscerally idiotic gunfight.
Hell, he even gets to crash a plane!
The Expendables 2
is nonsense of the highest order and more often than not, when the bullets
aren’t flying, it’s increasingly hard to care about what little plot there
is. But then the film goes and
does things like introduce, for no good reason other than it can, Chuck Norris, to the theme from The Good The Bad And The Ugly; “thanks
for showing up” mutters Sly, indeed.
It’s nothing more than a glorious little cameo which perfectly sums up
The Expendables 2; this is a film to be enjoyed, watched and forgotten about
until you stumble home late, drunk and feasting on a kebab to watch it in all
it’s head-popping, blade-thrusting, gung-ho, idiotic ways. Films of this ilk are, probably for the
best, an almost extinct breed. But
while there’s still life in the old dogs of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis
we may as well turn back the clock to those days of beefy heroes and expendable