Film: The Expendables 2

The cast/crew bit: directed by Simon West, starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jean Claude Van Damne, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Chuck Norris and all the rest

The ten-word synopsis: Read the cast list above. It’s them, blowing stuff up.

Look at the picture above. How does that make you feel? Excited? Joyous? Or perhaps wishing that the world would just end now and save everybody the pain? Your reaction to that screenshot shall more than likely sum up how you feel about The Expendables 2, the follow up to the 2010 original that just slammed some ageing action stars in a film together and told them to do what they do best.

Aside from the Gareth Thomas-baiting Mickey Rouke, the entire cast of the original are back, along with a number of new and exciting additions. The man dubbed ‘The muscles from Brussels’, Jean Claude van Damne plays the villain of the piece while the legendary Chuck Norris pops up as a ‘Lone Wolf’ type character. Other additions are less exciting, including Thors’ real-life brother and him off the Hunger Games Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu as the token female character. I, personally, couldn’t help but wish that the role of Maggie should’ve gone to somebody like Sigorney Weaver, especially as Yu is pretty static and unengaging as well as being a no-namer. Chuck Norris’ scenes stand out as being the best in the film, with two laugh-out-loud moments involving his internet reputation coming up.

From the returning guard, Jason Statham stands out as ever. He’s a magnetic screen presence for reasons I don’t think anybody shall ever understand. The gruff voice and knife-chucking style seems to keep me entertained despite not particularly being an action aficionado. Jet Li’s also fun to watch, but disappointingly disappears after only about 10 minutes and only one fight scene. There’s too much Sylvester Stallone for my liking, though. Whilst I couldn’t begin criticising the level of acting in the film for fear of never leaving the keyboard, the fact that the film seems to want to make us care about these characters strikes me as wrong. No. No, I have any vested interest in any of them as human beings. The films’ called the Expendables, for crying out loud, I’m hoping some of them bite the bullet. The action is well-choreographed and shot, but if anything resembling emotions or actual human nature creeps into the script, the film goes to pot. There’s one particular scene in which the ‘gang’ discuss there final meal that caused me to actively, physically wince worse than anything in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which I complained about so much last week, and even then, there’s no comic pay-off here. Just awful, awful dialogue.

That said, there are a few good one-liners (Stathams’ “I now pronounce you… man and knife!” seen in the trailer springs to mind) and the use of famous catchphrases is entertaining. While some have critcised the film for being too self-loving and reliant on references, seeing Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Both of whom are given full-on roles this time after their one-scene cameos last time out) swap their best-known utterances is, in my book, really quite funny, especially if you hadn’t seen it coming. Which you have now. Whoops.

The Expendables 2 is not, by any strech, a good movie and it isn’t trying to be. The difference between this and the rather poor predecessor is that, whereas the original was a straight-up action film, this buys its own hype. It loves itself, and it’s prepared to have some fun with it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, even if there’s still a bit more character and plot-based nonsense than there really had to be. I’m prepared to go with it, but if you’re not, then chances are it’ll probably be lingering in the ‘Hate’ category on your spectrum of relative film reviewing emotions. The best way to know whether or not you should watch The Expendables 2 is just to look at the cast list and decide if seeing Sly, Arnie, Jase and Brucey in shot together along with a few big guns would cause you to make an excited squeaky noise or an unearthly sigh. Add one point to the score bellow accordingly.Choice is yours.

5 Chuck Norrises doing Chuck Norris jokes out of 10

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