Although the season of summer blockbusters is over for the most part, Sylvester Stallone and his band of guns for hire are making sure the season ends with a bang.
In “The Expendables 2,” Stallone’s mercenary character Barney Ross and his friends are approached by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to recover a piece of technology from a plane crash. However, all is not as it seems, and after one of their men is murdered, Ross and his team set out for revenge.
Reprising their roles from the original 2010 action flick are Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Coture.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis also reprise their characters, both of whom have much bigger roles this time around. Joining the all-star cast are Chuck Norris as Booker, a friend of Ross’ and Jean-Claude Van Damme, who stars as the film’s villain, named Villian.
Yu Nan also joins the cast as Maggie, a butt-kicking female assigned to the team by Church.
As in the original film, all of the main stars have great chemistry and are clearly in their element when it comes to blowing things up and taking out bad guys.
One of the biggest complaints about the first film was that it didn’t fully capitalize on the opportunity it was given. Rather than taking it’s exceptional cast and forcing them to stop the bad guy together, the ensemble quickly fell into the background and Stallone and Statham stepped to the foreground. However, you live and learn, and fortunately co-writer Stallone, who gave up directing this time out, found a way to make the group the focus of the film. Sure, each character has their moment to shine, but those moments are interspersed through riveting, high-octane set pieces in which the entire group is fighting for a common cause.
Furthermore, the film takes the concept of action film dream team and flips it on its head in a way that works surprisingly well and manages to prevent itself from being overly cheesy. Rather than being your typical, straight laced action film, “The Expendables 2” is incredibly self-referential, the villain’s name is Villain for goodness sake, and some of the movies best moments are when its stars jest about their fellow actors prestigious filmography. Jokes about Chuck Norris’ character being a “lone wolf”, Schwarzenegger joking about being “back”, or even Chuck Norris making one of the many absurd jokes about himself provide several of the film’s many great one-liners.
While the film certainly isn’t for those who can’t handle a fair share of violence, “The Expendables 2” comes through on its promise to be a testosterone-driven, explosion-ridden experience.
4 stars out of 5.