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The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2

Released 16 August 2012
Director Simon West

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Liam Hemsworth, Terry Crews, Yu Nan

Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone

Basil Iwanyk, Avi Lerner, Danny Lerner, Kevin King Templeton, Les Weldon
Origin United States
Running Time 110 minutes
Genre Action
Rating 16

Better than the first.

Were 1980s action movies really this cheesy? Okay, silly question – of course the majority of them indeed were the epitome of your most potent cheddar, especially now being able to look back. For anyone of the era, though, you can't help but be both amused and entertained by the swashbuckling explosions, tame and obvious story lines, not to mention the distinct lack of acting talent and overuse of embarrassing cliched material. There were notable exceptions – most of which comprised actors who were brought together for this franchise in the hope of recreating the cinematic madness of yore. The original Expendables was such a letdown that it was disheartening to learn of the makings of a sequel but, despite a rocky start, the latest instalment is at least an improvement.

The team of mercenaries are back in full action and, after completing their latest assignment unscathed, Mr. Church (Willis) contacts leader Barney Ross (Stallone) to settle a score. Ross and his comrades are enforced with acquiring an important computer lost in a plane wreck that has the blueprints of a reported storage of plutonium. When Jean Vilain (yes you read that name correctly, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) intercepts their mission and brutally murders one of the team, the group are intent on tasting revenge and preventing the deadly plutonium from falling into the wrong hands.

The film commences amidst a bloody ambush that sees the crew recover a Chinese diplomat while inadvertently saving the life of rival Trench (Schwarzenegger) and it really will have you worried at what lies ahead. Some of the deaths you would expect in a poorly made B-movie, let alone Hollywood blockbuster, as heads are blown off with the digitally enhanced spurts of blood oh so recognisable from the initial outing of the series, offering the initial reaction of “Oh no, here we go again!” Thankfully, once that mess is cleaned up and the new mission takes precedence, the movie picks up the pace with a coherent and action-packed picture.

The axing of Sly as the director was a good move as Simon West offers a slicker and more polished final cut, remembering to include enough heartfelt dialogue to go along with the expected, but inconsistent, one-liners. Of those, some are actually very funny, taking a slapstick backhand to the routine formula of the '80s and in one such case begging the question as to why “the guys with something to actually live for are always the ones who die.”

There are still several cringe-worthy moments and it's by no means the finished article – nowhere near in fact – but there is something rather cool about the mega-action trio of Sly, Arnie and Willis joining forces to battle Van Damme and his army. The Expendables 2 is a bit of fun, in the murderous, destructive sense of the word, and I guess that's what it's simply meant to be.

- David Caulfield