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Published: 2012-08-17 - 20:45:44
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The Expendables 2 Review

By Tom Fugalli

Aging Bull

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Everybody's favorite action heroes (and then some) are back for more balls-to-the-wall, ass-kicking adventure in "The Expendables 2". Though there's some new blood this time around, the amount of blood spilled is familiar.

We are re-introduced to the gang via a gratuitous mission to rescue a Chinese billionaire in Nepal, in which everything is joyously laid waste to by group leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and - eventually - Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

The smoke has barely cleared before Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) gives them, along with new additions Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan), the next mission: retrieve a mysterious box from a safe inside a plane that crashed in Albania. Who (screenplay by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone) thinks of these things? The plan doesn't go as planned, and the Expendables set out to take vengeance on a crime cartel led by a villain actually named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), in case you're wondering if the filmmakers have a sense of humor. Along the way, Booker (Chuck Norris) lends a hand (and a foot).

The rapport between Stallone and Statham continues and is more jocular than in the previous installment. But then, everything is more jocular. A group of actors have not appeared to be this happy around each other since "Ocean's Eleven". The self-parodying references are as relentless as the gunfire. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger exchanging each other's catchphrases may cause your head to explode like those of any of the unfortunate extras on screen.

Like "The Avengers", the appeal of "The Expendables 2" is part nostalgia and part wish-fulfillment. Stallone and Van Damme fighting each other is the kind of thing that, until it happens, you don't realize you've been waiting over 20 years to see.

What is fun/frustrating is that the movie demands to not be taken seriously. The Chuck Norris scenes are particularly absurd, complete with references to the Chuck Norris Facts meme. When the Ennio Morricone music starts, we're less in Spaghetti Western territory and more in some Froot Loops Twilight Zone.

As the movie often reminds us, the Expendables are just actors. But it is plot, character, and dialogue that are the real expendables, and they deserve our respect. Without their sacrifice, the "Expendables 2" could not have been made.

What did you think?

Movie title The Expendables 2
Release year 2012
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary Like "The Avengers", the appeal of "The Expendables 2" is part nostalgia and part wish-fulfillment. But it is plot, character, and dialogue that are the real expendables.
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