Beefcake Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) returns along with the rest of his ragtag band of mercenaries, The Expendables in the originally titled sequel The Expendables 2. Gone from the original are Mickey Rourke and after a brief cameo, Yin Yang (Jet Li) replaced with a young sniper, Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and special CIA operative Maggie (Nan Yu). They join regulars Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Toll Road (Randy Couture), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren).
After rescuing a Chinese diplomat and rival mercenary leader Trench (Arnold Schwazenneger) The Expendables agree to do a mission for Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) that involves collecting some sensitive information from a crashed plane in Europe. It is here that they run in to International bad guy Jean Villain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who takes the information and uses it to find some missing Soviet plutonium. The team must stop Villain before he can sell the plutonium on the black market and potentially cause World War III.
To say that The Expendables 2 is stupid would be like calling Stallone muscular. It’s an understatement of the highest order, but much like it’s leader and head producer it proves itself surprisingly entertaining despite a wide array of issues. Once again the dialogue is some of the worst ever committed to film, with Stallone himself drawling and mumbling his way through doing his best impression of Tommy Wiseau from The Room. The story is cliched as you’d expect and appears to location hop for the sake of it, while the inconsistent pacing really drags the film down in the first half.
And yet, despite these issues, once they set out to stop the Villain, The Expendables 2 drifts into pure 1980s action heaven. Van Damme is on superb form as the scenary-chewing Villain as his nostalgic return a few years ago shows no sign of stopping. Hemsworth and Yu are excellent additions and the rest of The Expendables play along with reasonably straight faces throughout. The real star is Lundgren‘s Gunnar, who it turns out is actually a genius whose had one too many hits to the head, leading to plenty of weird and wonderfully scenarios, often resulting in him trying to build a bomb.
All in all, The Expendable 2 is not going to win any awards for its fine acting, or thrilling narrative. But for those who fondly remember the days of muscle-bound alpha males killing enemies and delivering witty one-liners The Expendables 2 is a nostalgia kick well worth the time. An improvement on the original and with some hefty cameos from Schwarzenneger and Willis, it’s a step in the right direction. There’s even time for Chuck Norris to pop up, massacre hundreds of bad guys with ease and tell a Chuck Norris joke. Now let’s see them get Nicolas Cage, Steven Seagal and The Rock signed up for The Expendables 3.
The Expendables 2 Trailer