“Expendables 2” is a 12-year-old boy’s dream come true – if that boy was 12 in 1985, that is.
All the big names of the 80s and 90s team up for a film that would have made my head explode 20 years ago, but with the film’s star and some of his supporting cast rapidly approaching or passing 70, “Expendables 2” plays out more like a comedy than an action film.
Sylvester Stallone once again called in all the favors in his book to get all of his old movie friends to come together for an adrenaline-filled action fest. To a certain point, Stallone accomplishes his goal.
There’s a certain amount of novelty (an awakening of that 12-year-old inside all of us) when Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis all appear on the screen at the same time, blowing bad guys to smithereens. But, these aren’t the Rambo, Terminator and John McClane that you remember. These are guys who should be sitting around a dinner table discussing their old exploits over cups of coffee.
In “Expendables 2,” a team of familiar mercenaries (Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and newcomers Liam Hemsworth and Yu Nan) are hired by a sleazy CIA operative (Willis, who seems to be having fun, realizing how bad the film is) to get a computer from a plane that crashed in Nepal. After recovering the computer, Stallone’s crew is ambushed, the computer, containing the map to a plutonium mine, is stolen by a group of villains led by a man creatively named Vilain (played cheezily by Jean Claude Van Damme).
In the process, one of Stallone’s team dies in the most drawn out and cliché way. Anyone who didn’t see his death coming must have fell asleep during the awkward expositions scenes between the crazy action sequences. The character tells Stallone that after the next mission is done, he’s out. He’s got a girl back home and wants to start a life with her. Before his death, he explains why he’s on the team. While in Afghanistan, his whole team died and nobody cared. They even killed his dog. His dog! You get the picture. They laid it on pretty thick.
During a stiff (and supposedly emotional) funeral scene, Stallone announces that they’re going to seek revenge on Van Damme’s group and save the world in the process, as Van Damme plans on selling the plutonium to the highest bidder. Along the way, bad guys will get killed with obligatory one-liner punch lines following their deaths, and a few familiar faces (Schwarzenegger, Willis and even Chuck Norris) show up out of nowhere to save the team from time to time.
I can’t help but feel that “Expendables 2” is a missed opportunity. There is entertainment to be had here, but not in the way the film intended. With a few small changes, “Expendables 2” could have been one of the best parodies ever filmed. I found myself laughing almost the whole way through, even during the scenes that were supposed to be serious.
As an action film, “Expendables 2” is no better than your run-of-the-mill, straight-to-DVD action movie – it just has bigger names attached – but as a comedy, the movie is pure gold.