The gang reloads and changes positions as star Sylvester Stallone bows out of directing the sequel to the action mega-film known as The Expendables. Director Simon West gives The Expendables 2 a much-needed steady hand for directing the multiple generic action shootouts that all end the same way, only this time with even more washed up actors from the 80s/90s. The Expendables 2 is better than the previous entry, but not by much.
I’m convinced that most people that try to defend The Expendables or its superior sequel haven’t recently watched one of the 80s action flicks that inspired this mess of work. Those films were cheesy in their own rights, but damn entertaining and loaded with violence and shooting, done up the old-fashioned American way with buckets of prop blood and lots of real rigged explosions. The stories were light and the acting was passable, but the enjoyment one could get out of any given Schwarzenegger or Stallone film was high and that is what drove the stars to have successful, yet slightly repetitive careers.
The Expendables is simply name nostalgia and not an actual tribute to the films that have come and gone before it. The Expendables 2 is a little better, thanks to the swapping of Stallone for Simon West as director, but it still misses the ball by a couple of miles.
West directs this one with more violence and less story, which is a plus, but he continues to use poorly rendered CGI for the blood work and he shoehorns in even more actors from the past that can’t seem to string a sentence together. Now we’re greeted with the likes of Chuck Norris, even though he’s only in it for a microsecond.
Guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis are given meatier roles, only to flat-line them with one-liners that make obvious references to their past bodies of work, like The Terminator or Die Hard. At least they brought on Jean-Claude Van Damme as the film’s villain, because he gives the film that much needed kick (literally). Van Damme and returning co-star Dolph Lundgren seem to be the only two that fully understand what makes The Expendables 2 work, because they’re constantly giving over-the-top and fun performances.
It sucks that they’re surrounded by the clueless and misguided Sylvester Stallone and the even more pointless Jason Statham. When Terry Crews becomes one of the highest levels of enjoyment in a film loaded with action heroes then you know you’re doing something wrong. Nothing against Crews, because the guy is a hilarious addition to the cast, but he shouldn’t be out-acting guys like Stallone and Statham, yet he dances around them effortlessly.
Jet Li was the smartest one of the bunch, because he cuts the string early on and bails before lunchtime.
The rest is a haze of flavorless action that simply puts these roided up freaks against countless bad guys without a face or purpose. It’s not fun watching our favorite hero mow down row after row of enemies if we aren’t given the slightest reason as to why we should even care what he’s doing.
The Expendables 2 is easier to get through than the first film, but the first film was a glaring disappointment that took a giant shit on everything it should have been paying homage to. They say the third time’s a charm, but I’m willing to bet that doesn’t apply to this situation.
Lionsgate transfers the film to Blu-Ray with a 1080p presentation that’s dark and natural, yet never too appealing to the eyes. The film gets points for remaining true to the source, but the colors are all washed up and grey, with that grittiness making way for finer detail and color exposure.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the only perfect thing about the entire experience. This shoot first ask questions later audio track comes exploding with bullets and bombs at a rapid pace that’ll keep your heart beating from start to stop. Dialogue is rarely spoken, yet when it is you’ll have no troubles comprehending it between the various scenes of pure war and carnage.
Here’s a list of the bonus material found on the disc:
- Audio Commentary with Director Simon West
- Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes (HD)
- Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980’s and the Rise of the Action Film (HD)
- On the Assault: The Real Life Weaponry of The Expendables 2 (HD)
- Guns for Hire: The Real Life Expendables (HD)
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Gag Reel (HD)
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
I’m still holding my breath for that Expendables film that accurately portrays why I loved watching 80s and 90s action flicks growing up and still revisit them to this day. Stallone clearly doesn’t understand why and while Simon West attempts to grasp that idea, he mostly comes up short. The Expendables 2 is what The Expendables should have been at the very least, which is a bad movie that has some decent action. The bar has been lowered severely at this point and yet I still question why these guys can’t deliver anything better.
The Expendables 2 is bigger and better than the first film thanks to Simon West's direction, but the first film kind of sucked. Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren appear to be the only two souls that understand what film they're in, while the rest of the cast stumbles around clueless and without cause.