Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarznegger, Liam Hemsworth, Randy Couture
Director: Simon West
Considerably more fun than the earlier film, The Expendables 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should you. Eyeing a rickety old jet that Bruce Willis has just presented to him in one of the film’s closing scenes, Sylvester Stallone declares: “That plane belongs in a museum.” “We all do,” quips Arnold Schwarznegger, echoing your sentiments exactly.
Back to deliver a second helping of that bullets-and-blood buffet of 80s action cinema, star and co-writer Stallone (he’s handed over directing duties to Simon West this time) once again gathers his band of ageing tough guys to kick some serious ass. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Stallone return as a team of deadly mercenaries who, in the film’s over-long opening sequence, wipe out an army of soldiers in a Nepalese village to rescue Schwarznegger. During a subsequent job assigned to them by Willis (who cameos as a CIA agent), a member of their squad is brutally killed by the film’s villain, played by fellow grisly-lion Jean-Claude Van Damme, thus prompting the hired guns to go into bloodthirsty revenge mode.
The plot, as you might have guessed, is nothing more than an excuse for this geriatric gang of beloved icons to show they’ve still got what it takes. How do you not cheer as Stallone and Van Damme get down and dirty in a hand-to-hand fight scene? Or when 72-year-old Chuck Norris makes an all-guns-blazing entry as a “lone wolf” who comes to the aid of the Expendables? How do you not giggle when the old fogies make embarrassing passes at Yu Nam, a tech genius and the sole female member in their team?
Nevertheless, it’s easy to be exhausted by the relentless stabbings, shootings and decapitations, and if it wasn’t for the film’s self-mocking humor, the charm of this steroidal sequel might have run dry early during its roughly 100-minute runtime. Of the film’s leathery-faced cast, Stallone still has a commanding presence even if he mutters most of his lines inaudibly. Statham is the real star, delivering some killer moves, particularly in one sequence in which he appears disguised as a priest. The rest are there mainly to provide laughs, many unintentional.
I’m going with three out of five for The Expendables 2. It’s dumb, silly fun. Best enjoyed with lots of popcorn.
Rating: 3 / 5
Anup Patel, Mumbai
Sreedhar Thanthry, Bangalore
Yegnesh Sundar, Chennai
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