The Expendables 2

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Expendables are deployed to Nepal in order to rescue a Chinese businessman. The team consists of leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), former SAS soldier and blades specialist Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), and snipers Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), the group’s youngest and newest member. The mercenaries rescue the businessmen, as well as Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Ross’ rival. Yang accompanies the businessman in his return to China, and temporarily departs from the group.

Ross accepts a mission from Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to retrieve an item from a safe from an airplane that was shot down in Albania. The team, accompanied by tech genius Maggie (Yu Nan), retrieve the item from the airplane; their victory is short-lived, after discovering that Billy has been captured by Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who intends to retrieve the item. The Expendables surrender the item, however Vilain executes Billy and leaves. The group bury Billy and swears revenge on Vilain; Maggie reveals the item on the plane was a blueprint to a mine which stores plutonium. Vilain, along with his right-hand man Hector (Scott Adkins), intends to retrieve a large amount of plutonium and sell them.

The team decides to travel to the mines, although the group stops by an abandoned military base where they spend the night. The next morning, the team are ambushed by Vilain’s army, but the army is quickly eliminated by Booker (Chuck Norris) single-handed, who departs the group shortly afterwards. Before departing, Booker informs the group about a nearby village with residents who are against Vilain. As they enter the village, the group discovers a number of armed female villagers who are guarding their children. The women tell the mercenaries that the men of the village have been taken to work at the mine; the miners never return to their families. Eventually, the Sang arrives to take more villagers to work, but the team successfully kills all the Sang, saving the village. The group stages an attack on Vilain through infiltrating the mine by shooting their plane through the caves; the plane is destroyed in the process. Vilain causes a set of explosions that buries the team and the miners underground. After Jensen makes an unsuccessful attempt to detonate a portion of the mine, Trench and Church rescue the mercenaries and the miners trapped in the mine; the miners are reunited with their loved ones from the village.

The Expendables, Trench and Church pursue Vilain to the airport, where Vilain and his men would depart on a private plane with the plutonium. The team, rejoined by Booker, fight their way through the airport. Christmas encounters and eventually decapitates Hector. Ross and Maggie follow Vilain to the hangar, where Ross and Vilain battle. Vilain is eventually strangled and stabbed by Ross, avenging Billy’s death. Church, Maggie, Booker and Trench say their goodbyes to Ross, with Church giving a worn-out airplane to Ross (as a replacement of the team’s destroyed airplane). As the team departs in the plane, the Expendables give a final toast in honor of Billy. The group leaves a large sum of money to Sophia (Nikolette Noel), Billy’s French girlfriend, as well as a picture of Billy and Billy’s final letter to Sophia

REVIEW:

A couple of years ago, everyone scoffed at the idea of a bunch of aging action starts getting together and making a movie. Many thought it was just a way for them to get a paycheck, since Hollywood had apparently passed them by. Well, they went on and laughed all the way to the bank, because The Expendables was a big financial success, proving that not everything needs to be CGI and big budget special effects. Now, we have The Expendables 2…same idea, but with a few of the stars that didn’t or couldn’t be in the first one.

What is it about?

Contrary to popular belief, there is a plot to this film, and it isn’t just a bunch of old guys shooting and blowing up stuff…although, that stuff is very prevalent throughout the picture. The actual storyline, though, is that the guys get hired by Mr. Church to go in and bring back something valuable, we initially don’t know what it is, from a safe in a plane that was shot down in the Chinese mountains. Once they retrieved the package are ready to head home, they are ambushed by a group of vigilante villains. After a tense game of chicken, a team member dies, which leads to the driving force behind the rest of the film, revenge. Along the way to the final showdown, the group helps the town that is being forced to mine plutonium so that the other vigilantes can sell it.

What did I like?

Action. If you’ve ever seen an 80s action flick, then you know that they are all about over the top explosions and bloody gore. Welcome to the 2000s, where the explosions are created by computers more often than not and gore is relegated to horror movies. Thanks goodness someone remembered that the audience wants to see this kind of stuff. Now, if only we can get more of it!

Tone. I’ve heard some people weren’t too happy with the change in tone from the first film, but I actually didn’t mind it. A few jokes among friends don’t hurt. If anything, they make these characters seem more human. Don’t you agree? There is a line that Barney has which really sums it up. It goes something like, “…we keep it light, but when the time comes we go full on dark”[sic].

Start and end with a bang. The best scenes in this film are the opening and closing scenes. Both are just the over-the-top action we expect from this fledgling franchise. These are this kind of scenes with lots of people getting killed, lots of stuff being blown up, and dizzying camera angles.

New blood. Bringing in Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme wasn’t a bad idea, even if Norris made them tone down the language to get a PG-13 rating (the violence knocked it back up to an R). I didn’t miss Mickey Rourke at all. Then again, after watching the first film again yesterday afternoon, he wasn’t really that important.

Know your audience. The audience for this film is mostly guys like me who are fed up with these so-called “action” (read=drama) films of today and they make sure they do everything the right way. I don’t believe this was a 3D film, but I can imagine some studio execs pleaded and begged for it to have been. I can’t say how glad I am to not have to have been forced to shell out the case for some rental sunglasses just to see some half-ass 3D effects that really don’t look any different from 2D.

Friendship. There is a scene where the guys are sitting around trying to relax from the day and it is just like some old friends reminiscing. They even have some fun with the “new guy”. This is not only the funniest scene of the movie, but it serves to develop the bond between the characters that we didn’t get in the first film, save for Barney and Christmas, who is actually not involved it.

Villain. Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to his starring form with his role as the villainous Villain (pronounced vil-lain). This guy seems to be cold, calculating, and everything you would expect from a villain of today. He demands and commands respect and murders without a second thought. Then there is the fact that he can go toe to toe with Stallone. Just wait until you see that!

What didn’t I like.

Girl, please. When this film started, I was thinking to myself, we have this group of 80s action guy stars, but what about a group of women? No sooner than I finished that thought, do we get introduced to the character of Maggie. Throughout the film, you can tell there is tension between her and Stallone, and I’m not just talking about the sexual tension. As a character, she isn’t bad, but a woman doesn’t belong in this group. It just doesn’t work.

Asian connection. Jet Li kicks more ass in the 10 minutes or so he’s on the screen this time around than he did in all of the last picture. OK, maybe that’s a bit of a an exaggeration, but he does seemingly disappear and never comes back or is mentioned for the rest of the picture. Coincidentally, the “help” that Church brings in is Asian. I can’t help but think there was a reason behind this ethnic casting.

Jason. I’m a huge Jason Statham fan and, personal bias aside, I have to say that it sort of felt like he was relegated to the role of the sidekick this time around. He even bitches about it when he has to go back and get the truck. If not for the scene in the church and his fight with Van Damme’s right hand man, you’d really wonder why he wasn’t utilised more.

Young blood and nearly silent. Aside from Li, there were two other things about the cast that bothered me. First, there is the early death of Liam Hemsworth’s character. I was initially questioning his casting instead of his brother, Chris, but since they killed him off so fast, I guess it makes sense. I have to wonder, especially if they’re talking of making this a real franchise, why they would kill the newest and youngest member, especially since he’s such a crack shot. Granted, his death serves as motivation for the rest of the film, it just seemed like they could have used someone else, like say, Toll Road. Randy Couture’s character is there, but he has little, if anything, to say. I believe he may have 5 or 10 lines throughout the entire film. They could have given him something else to do!

Arnold. After his years as governor of California, it is good to see Arnold getting back into the acting thing. There was even a trailer with hims starring in his own film, so he’s at least picking back up where he left off. The problem here, though, is that his one-liners are as bad they were in Batman & Robin. I can’t give him a pass for being rusty on this one. He needs to do better, and the writers should be ashamed for having him constantly recite such drivel!

The Expendables 2 is a damn fun, good time to be had. A true nostalgic picture than makes you wonder why they don’t make films that are truly fun anymore. I want you, though, if you’re looking for something cerebral and artsy-fartsy, this is not the film for you. This is a film for those of us that actually want to be entertained when we go to the movies! With the summer movie season coming to a close, this is the perfect film to wrap it up and may end up being a sleeper hit, at least on this blog, come the end of the year awards. I highly recommend that you stop reading this and head to your nearest theater and go see this right now!

5 out of 5 stars

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5 Responses to “The Expendables 2”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  2. […] grows in the sequels). Really, aside from that franchise and the short amount of time he was in The Expendables 2, Hemsworth’s career highlight has been his relationship with Miley Cyrus. The guy has the […]

  3. […] guy is an accomplished martial artists and stuntman. He just went toe to toe with Jason Statham in The Expendables 2, and that isn’t something that is easy to do. As King Amphitryon, he comes off as a cartoon […]

  4. […] diner. The Expendables 2 dug up Jean-Claude Van Damme and made him a villain. Excuse me, Vilain. This time around we get Mel […]

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