Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Nepal.  A South Asian country of about thirty million… until The Expendables killed every last one of them in this film's opening sequence.  I'm pretty sure all thirty million of 'em are dead now.  There is a vacant country in Southern Asia if anybody in that area wants to start their own little nation.  The Expendables have returned, in the aptly titled 'The Expendables 2' and they are going to blow some stuff up real good.
After surviving that harrowing trip to Nepal, having to deal with a bunch of soldiers clearly trained by the Storm Trooper training brigade, the team settles back at their bar to enjoy the good times.  Of course you remember them… Barney the leader (Sylvester Stallone) his lovelorn right hand man Christmas (Jason Statham), the depressed Toll Road (Randy Coutre), the gun loving Caesar (Terry Crews) and the completely unhinged Gunner (Dolph Lundgren).  Jet Li as Yin Yang did join in for the opening sequence but apparently he had another movie to shoot in Hong Kong at the time and jumped out of an airplane before we made it back to the bar.  We also have a new expendable in young super sniper Billy (Liam Hemsworth) who confides with Barney that this life really isn't for him, and that he's going to leave the crew behind to live with his French girlfriend he loves so much.  After the next job.  Barney should've stabbed young Billy right there in his eyeball to spare us from grieving about him later on. 

So what's the job this time?  CIA honk Church (Bruce Willis) is still all pissy about what went down in the last movie and needs Barney to set it straight, so he dispatches the crew to do a real simple gig, grab some case from a crashed plane.  Easy.  Barney has to take a the full ruby red lips of Miss Maggie (Nan Yu) along, but I'm guessing the girl can take care of herself since she's Asian and this is an action movie which means by default, she knows kung fu.  Easy gig.
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Oh well.  Waiting for them once they retrieve this case is completely evil Mr. Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), leader of the hated gang known as the Saings and he wants the case and he has Billy the kid as a hostage.  Obviously nobody wants to see Billy die... for whatever reason… so the Expendables give Vilain what he wants.  Damn if this cat isn't a really, really bad dude.  Kind of.  I mean he could've and should've killed them all right there, saving himself a lot of trouble in the very near future, but no… he kills just enough to piss Barney off and ensure his ultimate demise. 

Now it's on as our Expendables, plus the hot chick, minus one, hunt down Vilain for blood thirsty revenge.  And where Arnold Swarzenegger and Bruce Willis just dropped in on the last movie cameo style, they're here for the full bloody ride this time.  Man, even Chuck Norris decided to hop off his Total Gym to help out.  What's going to happen?  Stuff will blow up, bad guys with automatic weapons will hold them casually and not pull the trigger when required while getting systematically mowed down, and stuff will blow up some more.  This we know.

I gotta admit that I didn't enjoy the Simon West directed 'The Expendables 2' nearly as much as I enjoyed the Sylvester Stallone crafted 'The Expendables' which was one of my favorite movies of 2010, despite the fact that this movie was bigger, bloodier, more action filled, crazier, more star studded and stupider.  All of that in itself should've made for a more entertaining action ride but… and I hate to do this for a movie called 'The Expendables 2'… but I'm gonna have to get all critical on this one.   What I did not realize about the first movie, which I re-watched before I checked out the sequel, was that Stallone actually infused subtlety and nuance in that movie.  I know, right?  You probably thought it was just a stupid action movie, as did I initially, but no… in comparison to the sequel the story was deeper, the characterizations were better, the pace was less hectic and it was an overall a better film in my opinion.  This sequel had more action, better action, more explosive action, and it moved faster but maybe because I'm finally getting old… it felt all a bit overblown. 

Ah… but here's where the sequel trumps the original, in a big way, and that would be villain Vilain.  God bless Jean-Claude Van Damme who was completely reprehensible as the bad guy in this movie, just terrible.  And to get all critical again, he was the one guy in this movie who actually adopted some kind of character as opposed to playing a slight variation of his screen persona as all of our other aging action stars did.  The real problem with Van Damme in this movie was just there wasn't enough of him.  In fact, he was so good at being bad in this movie, that Stallone should think about bringing him back should there be an 'Expendables 3'.  Admittedly that might be difficult… considering… but the things we can do with movie magic.  And Scott Adkins was woefully underused in this movie.

Now I don't want to send out the message that I didn't enjoy 'The Expendables 2' because I'm pretty sure it delivered everything that the filmmakers set out to accomplish and it was entertaining, believe that, and Lord knows I'd watch the worst Expendables movie before I'd watch a great 'Twilight' or 'Pirates of the Caribbean', but for me personally the first movie set the bar pretty high and this sequel didn't reach those lofty heights I imposed on it.  Except for Van Damme.  God bless Jean-Clause Van Damme.
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