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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.34%
Worth A Look: 13.79%
Just Average51.72%
Pretty Crappy: 20.69%
Sucks: 3.45%

3 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Expendables 2, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"No Country For Old Musclemen"
2 stars

I begin this review of "The Expendables 2," the sequel to the surprise 2010 hit featuring several generations of action film icons pounding the crap out of each other and anyone who happened into their gristly paths, with one simultaneously basic and deeply profound question--did Mickey Rourke's character die during the first one or something? Although not a major player by any means, he did play a small role in the earlier proceedings but he is nowhere to be found this time around and there is no reference to him that I noticed. See, I know that I saw the first one and even kind of liked its admittedly cheesy charms on some fundamental level but I have absolutely no recall regarding anything but its broadest strokes and bear in mind, this was a film that consisted almost entirely of broad strokes. Oh, I know I could probably look up my original review or check the Blu-Ray that I know is lying around somewhere and answer my question but even the minimal amount of work this would require seems to be more effort than it is already worth. Of course, that would be more of a genuine work effort than that put forth by most of the people involved with this overtly slapdash effort that bears the same basic relationship to a genuinely thrilling action extravaganza that the typical order from Papa John's has to actual pizza, though it does admittedly have more chunks of meat scattered about.

After an opening set-piece in Nepal that finds them slaughtering thousands of bad guys, rescuing a Chinese diplomat and completing Jet Li's contractual obligation to make at least a token appearance in a sequel, everyone's favorite band of adorably ruthless mercenaries--Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham), Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Bill the Kid(Liam Hemsworth)--are about to take a much-needed rest when the shadowy Church (Bruce Willis) presses them back into service with what he promises is an easy assignment. They are to fly to Albania to track down a downed airplane, retrieve the mysterious contents to a safe and bring it back home. "But wait," you might ask, "how can they possibly go into battle without Jet Li and, more importantly, the enormous Asian audience that he can potentially bring to the box-office. No problem--Church insists that they bring along warrior tech Maggie (Yu Nan) and not only is she Asian, she is also a girl to boot with the ability to presumably attract yet another demographic group. Anyway, they arrive and find the plane but are immediately overtaken by a bad guy so nasty that his name literally is Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who gets away with the information in the safe--a map leading to 6 tons of Cold War-era plutonium stored in a remote mine--and murders one of our heroes in the process. While Vilain forces the locals to help retrieve the plutonium so that he can sell it on the open market, the Expendables set off in pursuit to stop him with the occasional bit of assistance from fellow mercenaries Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris).

With its star-studded cast of famous faces going through their paces in the quickest and least-demanding manner possible in exchange for hefty paychecks, a screenplay that is a virtual Mad Libs booklet in which the blanks have been filled with boilerplate exposition, overblown exhortations ("Come on, you bastards!," "Eat shit!," "I got this!") and self-conscious in-jokes about the personal and professional live of its stars (ranging from quotes from other movies to references to Lundgren's little-known academic achievements) and the kind of respect for narrative continuity and spatial geography normal found only in home movie shot by someone using a camera for the very first time, "The Expendables 2" resembles nothing so much as a testosterone-heavy version of the old Rat Pack movies that Frank, Dean, Sammy and the gang used to slap together as something to do in the downtime between Vegas gigs. Of course, that was pretty much the case the first time around but that one had enough of a junky charm to it that one could sort of convince themselves that they were watching "Ocean's 11" with protein shakes instead of martinis. This time around, however, the end result is far closer to the likes of "4 for Texas" thanks to the general sense of laziness all around.

The story, at least what can be discerned in between the explosions, is so threadbare and one-note that it would have hardly passed muster in a second-tier video game from the 8-bit era. Mega-hack (how else to describe a filmmaker whose career high-water mark continues to be "Con Air"?) Simon West takes over the directorial duties from Stallone this time around his efforts are as pedestrian as can be and lack the style, grace and élan that he previously brought to the likes of "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and the pilot to "The Cape." The action sequences, theoretically a major draw in a film like this, are completely formulaic--only one grisly gag involving an airport X-Ray machine is even remotely memorable In front of the camera, Stallone and Statham coast through the proceedings with the grim determination of two stars with better things to do while higher-profile people like Willis, Schwarzenegger and Norris turn up just long enough to ensure their presence in the trailers. As for the rest of the cast, they seem content to just be there as they jostle for screen time and based on his work here, I can only assume that the new career path that Jean-Claude Van Damme seemed to be embarking on in the wake of his surprising turn in the self-effacing cult oddity "JCVD" has apparently gone by the wayside.

There is no way that I can possibly recommend "The Expendables 2," even on an ironic level--this is the kind of film that is so incredibly forgettable that it practically evaporates from the memory even before you start watching it. That said, I don't feel quite as harshly towards it as I do towards other cinematic gumdrops of its ilk. Even if they are essentially playing the action film equivalent of grab-ass instead of making a real movie, seeing the likes of Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger and Statham--not to mention lesser lights like Van Damme, Lundgren and Norris--all together in one film does offer up a certain basic frisson that cannot be denied for anyone who grew up watching their films. This is movie fast food of about the lowest level you can achieve without actually being named Arby's but it does have a certain charm to it, no matter how slight it may be. I can't imagine ever seeing "The Expendables 2" again unless it was part of some diabolical hostage situation but if there was to be "The Expendables 3" in a couple of years, I would happily check it out, especially if the producers could figure out some way to tie it in with the equally goofy "Step Up" franchise. Hell, with a pairing like that, I bet even Mickey Rourke would be willing to return to the fold.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23300&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/17/12 13:57:25
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User Comments

8/23/14 Charles Tatum Bloodier than its 80s lineage, and that kills the "fun" 3 stars
1/16/14 Sugarfoot A lot of fun in a low expectations kind of way. 4 stars
11/09/13 bored mom Like how Arnold says 'AHM RUNNING LOH ON AHMO' and then immediately kills ten more dudes. 4 stars
1/05/13 JosieCottonisagoddess Great action and humor 5 stars
9/03/12 Courtney Better than the first, with some pretty good action scenes. 4 stars
8/29/12 matthew wood a decent sequel besides the fact that sylvester stallone needs to retire he is way too old 3 stars
8/24/12 mwildema Killer... 5 stars
8/22/12 Man Out Six Bucks They killed Bobby&his puppy! Who will protect Afghan smack for the CIA now? 1 stars
8/21/12 KingNeutron It was better than the 1st one, almost came across as parody of itself with humor n action 4 stars
8/20/12 action movie fan they did it better this time around good action and action legends 5 stars
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  17-Aug-2012 (R)
  DVD: 20-Nov-2012


  DVD: 20-Nov-2012

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