The opening sequence of The Expendables 2 should leave you with no doubts as to what’s in store for you the rest of the way, with its monumental body count, bullet-spraying and explosions galore. Not that that was any sort of secret beforehand but it gets into the action extremely quickly and sticks to its guns (pardon the pun) the rest of the way.
The plot, what there is of one anyway, involves the team – which once again includes Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews and Randy Couture – tracking down a terrorist in order to get revenge (I won’t spoil for what) and stop him from stealing and subsequently selling tons of plutonium. It’s about as thin as plotlines go, even for a brainless action flick such as this.
Let there be no illusions; The Expendables 2 is not exactly a good film. Filled with terrible dialogue, worse acting, jokes that (for the most part) don’t work, and just plain silly attempts at emotion, it’s not the type of film that’s going to win many awards beyond Hardest Attempt At Delivering A Funny One-Liner Without Achieving It. But to be fair it’s not aiming for that and in terms of action, ranging from simple gunplay to flying a plane into a mine, the movie covers its basis.
The selling point (I suppose) of this sequel is the addition of some famous faces to the cast, namely Jean-Claude Van Damme as a ridiculously over-the-top villain who might as well have a moustache to twist, and Chuck Norris who inexplicably appears when it’s convenient in a “remember me?” extended cameo. We also have expanded roles for Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger whom we saw briefly in the first film, whose only real function is to spout action cliche one-liners while shooting big guns (I suppose they fit right in!). I was half expecting Steven Seagal to pop up at one point – don’t put that past them for the next movie.
Taking over directing duties from Stallone himself is Simon West (Con Air) and under his direction and Stallone’s co-written script the film seems hell bent on topping every aspect of the first film, with one ludicrous set-piece after another built with the intentions of showing of the various team members specialties; want Jet Li doing his usual fast-paced martial arts stuff? You got it. Dolph Lundgren throwing helpless baddies against stone pillars? No problem. What about Van Damme’s trademark jumping kick? Even that’s in there. There’s something strangely commendable about that sort of no-holds barred mentality, even if it means sacrificing things like a good plot or any sort of character development which the first one at least had dashes of.
The Expendables 2 just about achieves that thing most bad movies do; being so bad it’s good. There’s something oddly enjoyable about watching this team of action men from the past and present laying waste to the countless bad guys that get in the way of them accomplishing their mission. They have outdone themselves with a sequel that’s as bombastic, stupid and ridiculous as action films get. And somehow I don’t see fans of the first one caring about that one damn bit.
The Expendables 2 opens in UK cinemas on August 16th.