The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2 *

Directed By Simon West

Starring – Sylvester Stallone,Jason Statham,Dolph Lundgren,Jean-Claude Van Damme,Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Their Back, Sadly

GRAB the creatine, ammunition and feel the testosterone as the roughest mercenary team reassembles in the Expendables 2, certificate 15, the sequel to the 2010 action movie blockbuster.

Much of the original cast return, although sadly Mickey Rourke is nowhere to be seen, and Jet Li gives only a brief cameo appearance. Chuck Norris joins the ensemble cast and Jean-Claude Van Damme plays the film’s central antagonist, the aptly named Jean Vilian. Both Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger have slightly bigger roles this time round, expanding upon their cameo appearances from the previous instalment.

When the Expendables team reunites upon the request of Willis’ Mr Church for what should be a relatively easy mission. Things quickly go wrong, resulting in the death of one of there own. The mercenaries are compelled to seek revenge  and attempt save the world, even if the odds are stacked firmly against their favour.

This time around Stallone hands over directing duties to Simon West, whose notable work to dates includes the 1997 action movie, Con Air. But Stallone remained heavily involved with the film’s screenplay, sadly there in lies the greatest problem. The film’s script is simply dreadful, full of awful dialogue and cliché ridden sound bites. Yes Arnold says ‘I’ll be back’ not once but twice in this film. And at one point someone shouts yippee ki yay at Bruce Willis’s character, that’s the level of writing on display here.

The villain’s plot involving plutonium, was so stale, it felt older than some of the cast members on display.

But it’s also the toned down violence throughout this film that was such a let-down. Stallone’s previous film might have had a thread-bare plot but the over the town violence more than compensated for the dreadful dialogue. Reminiscent of some of the violent action movies many of the film’s actors starred in during the 1980’s. The Expendables had an 18 certificate and rightfully so. Sadly in comparison the sequel seems awfully tame and watered down in comparison. This might have been done to gain a bigger share of potential cinema goers.

The film’s pacing also felt rather sluggish, compared to its predecessor. There’s quite a lot of needless dialogue on display before the mercenaries actually do what they do best. The decision to introduce a new character, played by Liam Hemsworth, brother of Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, is just one example. Viewers are treated to his character’s in-depth back story and motivation only to see his character bumped off a few scenes later. Personally I would much rather have seen much more of Jet Li, doing what he does best.

Chuck Norris fans may be left disappointed as his character, known as Booker, The Lone Wolf has very little screen-time. Van Damme however is convincing as the film’s Villain, dressed in black leather and wearing sunglasses his character reassembled U2’s frontman Bono. He is clearly having fun playing the bad guy, and his performance is one of the few redeeming aspects of this film. His final confrontation between Stallone’s character was probably the features highlight.

But there’s nothing on-screen that matches the previous film, personally my favourite moment from The Expendables, wasn’t an action sequence but was Mickey Rourke’s character Tool, retelling his memory of a traumatic memory involving a young woman during the Bosnian war.

With talk already of a third instalment in the franchise, their seems no sign of the Expendables retiring any time soon. But while there is a certain cheesy cinematic charm in seeing so many 80’s action stars sharing screen time together it’s sad to see them wasted in such dreadful fluff.

Film’s like The Avengers and even R.E.D. showed how to successfully manage a collection of large egos together onscreen. Sadly the Expendables 2 misfires way of the mark and may leave many viewers feeling like it was a dud.

Review By William McClean

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