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Casted as if from an action-flick wet dream, the ragtag murder-minded mercenary group The Expendables returns for a sequel. The film is a sequel in the loosest of terms with little to no plot points that stretches from the first movie to the second. Most likely because said plot points had been sufficiently stabbed, shot, blown up, decapitated and/or beaten to death. And much like its predecessor, The Expendables 2 recognizes what it is from the opening credits — an action film that’s been injected with adrenaline with its hair disheveled after an all night bender.
The Expendables 2 doesn’t explore new ground within the action genre yet it still appeals to any machismo moviegoer. At moments the film becomes a genre parody. With an action lineup featuring Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Hemsworth, Chuck Norris, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme, it’s almost impossible to pass up the opportunity for notable references from the actors’ past action roles. A particularly favorite exchange involves Trench (Schwarzenegger) and Willis (Church):
Trench: I’ll be back
Willis: You’re always coming back. I’ll be back.
Trench: Oh, Yippie ki-yay
Do these moments sometimes feel forced? Yes, but then again this entire movie is forced. Borrowing a similar formula from the first film, The Expendables 2 opens in media res as Barney Ross (Stallone) and company unleash unending gore on an army of unsuspecting baddies. A few digital enhanced moments of destruction and a quick Terminator pun later, the film shifts focus to Church’s new job for The Expendables. A classic setup: guns, explosions, maniacal mad man, a crap-ton of plutonium and Russians. Never forget the Russians.
The rest you can pretty much plot for yourself. Such a statement might be a damnation for any other film, but The Expendables 2 never strives to be anything more than the most ridiculous, over-the-top action film to date. With this sole goal in mind, Simon West, who took over directing duties for the sequel, achieved everything possible. But beyond its mega-action façade, there exists a few moments of actual audience connection. No doubt a rare occurrence, but its very existence gives the film a little respectability.
If they ever wish to round out the trilogy with a third film (which seems inevitable), I will be firmly planted, third row from the back, front and center, to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger wield and unfathomably huge weapon. You know, the way God intended.
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