The Expendables 2 (2012)

Finally, they got tired of the retirement home and decided to fight back.

Hot off their latest mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his ragtag team of mercenaries are pulled right back in the game when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) presents them with a new assignment. It should be easy—to travel to Albania and retrieve a briefcase carrying a blueprint of a plutonium mine. The villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), isn’t exactly quaking in his boots, but he probably should be. There is exactly no chance whatsoever Barney will allow him to escape with his life.

I know I’m going to catch a lot of hot water for this but I actually liked the first Expendables. I thought it had awesome action, an ensemble cast of action stars that I missed seeing on the big-screen, and provided me with enough laughs to even everything else out. Yeah, the story may have been terribly lame and the action wasn’t non-stop, but at least it was fun and that’s more than I can say about plenty other Summer, action blockbusters that came out in 2010. Thankfully, with more back-up and some new faces, this sequel does a whole lot better and keeps everything moving in just the right way.

Since being writer, director, producer, and the main star of the original one proved to be too much for him, Stallone decided to take it easy on this one and allow Simon West to take over the director duties and what a great decision that was! Going into this film, I wanted action, action, action, and well, more action, and that is exactly what I got from West’s direction. In the first 10 minutes of this flick, we get a huge, loud, and explosive set piece that shows the guys running around, shooting and killing people while dropping corny one-liners for fun and to be honest, it got me in the mood for what I was about to get for the rest of the movie. It was also a surprise to see a lot of wide shots used for the action as well as some nifty editing tricks to where we could actually the action as it happened.

There is a story to be had here, but in all honesty, who gives a shit about that when you got these guys! There’s a whole lot of mayhem to be seen here and everybody here takes total and complete advantage of that and makes this flick seem like it was a lot more deserved in the action department, than the first one. I wanted loud, insane, crazy, and intense action and for the most part, West delivered on that and sort of gave me the old-school action movie feeling I wanted with the first one but instead, only got here once he put his magical touch on it. It also helps that these guys seem like they’re all having the times of their lives making this movie, and you can’t help but feel the same exact thing and join in on the festivities. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I got and for that, I am very thankful.

However, as fun and action-packed as this movie may have been, there were still some quibbles I had with it in that department. All of the action seemed to happen with just guns and explosives. We do actually get a couple of fist-fights here and there, but it seemed like they cheated out on that mainly because the guys are getting a little too old to be flying around, simulating beating the crap out of one another. I guess after Stallone broke his neck during filming in the first one, they decided to settle down on that aspect, but it still worked none the less despite all of my bitching.

You also can’t help but laugh unintentionally at this film at times, too. There is a story here so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much but where it was going, how it was going, and why it was going there all seemed a bit cheap for my tastes and it gets very sentimental at one part, for which I didn’t even really care about. Let me just say this without spoiling anything, a character gets killed off in the beginning and it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t make a difference one bit. It sort of just happens and we don’t care which is kind of a bummer considering these are characters and performers we should love and care about, especially when their lives may be in one degree of danger. That rarely happens in action movies like these but let’s just forget about those conventions and try to suspend reality for a bit.

The ensemble for the first flick was great, but this one, well, it’s even better where we finally get to see some of the most iconic and popular action stars in one, big, action orgy. It’s a pretty neat thing to see, especially when they are all at the top of their game as well. Sylvester Stallone does a great job as the core of the film, and still looks fit and clean to the point of where you could imagine him not only having the brains, but also the guns (both kinds of guns) to kick anybody’s ass; Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, and it’s probably the best type of role he can play out there and that’s all that matters to me; Dolph Lundgren was hilarious and steals probably half of the scenes he’s in just being the normal, goofy, Swedish dude we all know and sometimes love him for; Nan Yu brings some estrogen to the mix and does a fine job of holding her own when it comes to kicking ass and taking names; Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all back for what seem to be extended cameos, but still get the chance to mow down some mothaeffa’s and sprinkle out some awesome one-liners that show them exactly why they were so requested for this movie; and let’s not forget about Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said about that.

Everybody else that I didn’t mention is pretty much in the background but still does their own thing, which is good, but the real star of this whole cast is probably the ultimate return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a major, action blockbuster. It’s been awhile since Van Damme has been in anything this big before and it’s a great return-t0-form for this dude because he still does all of the same awesome shit that we loved him for before. He’s still got the signature kicks in him, still oozes the charisma that makes him such a watchable presence in the first place, still is in great shape, and still can play somebody that we hate so damn much, but yet, we can’t get enough of. In my opinion, Van Damme stole the show for me and I hope that this gets his name out there once again and brings him back to the major, Hollywood blockbusters he at one point owned every time.

Consensus: While it doesn’t win any points in its character development, emotional story, or incredibly original writing, The Expendables 2 wins mucho points in providing plenty of kick-ass action, a look at some of the greatest action stars in the biz, and a fun time at the movie theaters that gives us one last bang for the Summer. Sucks to say it, but it’s just about over people and what a way to go out.



  1. Do my eyes decieve me? This is the third positive review I’ve read so far. I honestly thought this would be complete nonsense. Apparently not. Great review Dan.

  2. I got a real kick out of it. No stop action and mayhem for sure. Best thing was as you said they had fun with it; can’t ask for much more than that. Some good lines to come out of it too. Cheers!

  3. you’re not the only one that loved the first one, man. i agree with you that stallone stepping down from the director chair. the action was so much better and the added emphasis on the comedy really made the film much more enjoyable. sort of like adding chocolate icing to choclate cake…making a good thing better.

    great review man!

  4. Wow, 8/10? I like the first movie so I’m sure after reading all of those positive reviews, I’m gonna like this one even better.

  5. I still am a bit surprised by how well received this film has been. I may actually try and catch this one in cinemas, unlike the first film. Great review, Dan.

  6. I’m with you Dan on the first outing for this bunch of old guys. I really enjoyed it. Anyone who walks out of this film or the first one and says they were disappointed in the plot/story/dialogue needs to get their heads checked, if that’s what they think they need to make note of in a film like this!

    I really enjoyed it. Better than the first, that’s for sure. Looks like there was more fun had here. And more fun poked at too. Which is all great.

    With you about the fisticuffs. While I LOVED the Stallone vs. Van Damme showdown, I wanted more out of it. You know?

    Great action film and I for one wouldn’t mind another.

  7. Nah, there’s nothing wrong with liking the first Expendables. In fact, despite my gripes with it, I actually found it to be enjoyable, even if it didn’t really hold up upon multiple viewings. But it was still a blast to watch in a packed theater, so that counts for something.

    But yeah, pretty much agree with you on all your points for the second movie. Nice review, Dan. 🙂

  8. I was kinda pissed about that early death. That was the only character I thought wasn’t a complete cartoon. Sure, he was just as cliche as the rest of them, but I thought he might bring a different tone to their interactions with each other; sort of a straight-man to all the clowns.

  9. I absolutely loved the movie – made me nostalgic for all the big action pieces I loved from the 80s! I agree with your review that this one is probably a little better than the first one! Nice job!

    • Better than the first, that’s for sure and a film that I wouldn’t mind seeing once again. Depends on who they can get though. Thanks Jeanette!

  10. I enjoyed the second one more than the first: this one didn’t have a WTF moment like the human artillery. But whatever moments this film lacks, it makes up for the overload of testosterone, the self-referential humor, and Chuck Norris. 😀

  11. Your review said it all. For someone who prefer a good plot, this film failed to win me over. It’s not that I dislike action, the plot was just too lame and cliche I just couldn’t see what’s interesting.

    Thanks for visiting my blog though. 🙂

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