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August 29, 2012


Capsule Movie Review – The Expendables 2 (2012)


Stallone and Van Damme engage in a fight to the death to avenge a murdered comrade, Schwarzenegger and Willis do a bad Hope and Crosby routine during a video game-style shooting spree, and the camera cuts to the rest of the guys a few times to remind us they’re in the movie. It’s bad when the big action finale is the low point of the movie, it’s worse when it’s representative of the whole. The worst of it is the jarring shifts in tone. Stirring together meta goofiness, tear-jerking sufferings of salt of the earth peasants, and mawkish tributes to our men in uniform does not make for an appetizing stew. Director Simon West’s point-and-shoot style doesn’t break the action into tiny pieces and Van Damme steals the show as the villain, but nothing else can be considered an improvement. The sequel trades in the basically straightforward, mercenary buddy, action-comedy with a gimmick (“We’re old, but we’re still tough!”) formula of the original for ’80s action movie nostalgia and pop culture kitsch. Statham is demoted from one half of the buddy team to comic relief, joining the returning Lundgren, Crews, and Couture; Li is written out after the action set piece opening; Liam Hemsworth has a small part as a plot contrivance; Nan Yu fills in for the absent Rourke in the Serious Moments; and Norris has an over-extended cameo. Speaking of the opening, it’s easily the highlight of the movie. They quip, shoot, and pummel their way to victory by land, sea, and air in a deliriously overstuffed 10 minutes. If only that was the representative part….

1 star

One thing I liked and one thing I didn’t like: Jet Li has a terrific energy that’s sorely lacking in most of the movie. Nothing against Yu, but she’s not exactly an action movie star of yesteryear. The casting department really missed a trick with that one.


Competing reviews of The Expendables by Nir and Helen

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Miriam
    Aug 29 2012

    Jet Li has only ten minutes! I knew this one couldn’t be any fun when I first saw the crowded cast list. With luck I can sneak in for the opening scenes when I’m at the theater for a real movie.

  2. Aug 29 2012

    There are a few good bits here and there but overall it’s a mess. Li got out while the going was good.

  3. Aug 29 2012

    From what I hear Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin were replaced with JCVD, Chuck Norris, and Nan Yu; the story’s exactly the same, in which there isn’t a story; Stallone didn’t direct this film because the first film was shot terribly; and that this film is almost as bad as the first one. The reason that most people say that it’s almost as bad as the first film is because the first 10 minutes and the final 15 minutes are the only god parts of the entire film and that they’re better that the entire first film.

    I’ve grown to hate the first film and was hoping that this film would be better, but I’m going to have wait for video.

  4. Aug 29 2012

    The last 15 minutes embody all the worst tendencies of a sequel based on a misguided conception of what made the first movie popular.

    We don’t need to hash out our differences here over THE EXPENDABLES- that’s why we have dueling reviews, after all- but I can tell you that aside from Van Damme, who is perfection, and the opening, which is very entertaining, THE EXPENDABLES 2 is a considerably worse movie than its predecessor.

    I’m not sure if you meant to suggest a one to one correspondence with that list, but in plot function Nan Yu’s character is the replacement for Mickey Rourke’s. Austin’s was simply dropped from the team, without replacement. And only the most diehard Stone Cold fan would miss him. The cast is unwieldy enough as it is. The same goes for Jet Li- although as a diehard fan I did miss him.

  5. Aug 29 2012

    It wasn’t a one to one correspondence; I was simply stating that the cast hadn’t grown in size, aside from the addition of Scott Adkins, who should become the next action star, and Liam Hemsworth, who, from what I hear, is simply cannon fodder.

    As far as I see it this film has 25 good minutes in it and 100% of the first film is utter garbage, therefore this is automatically a better film than its predecessor. I also like that you’d enjoyed the first film and hate this one. :O)

    Generally I hear that this film is mostly boring. You’ll find out what I think of it in a few months. I’ve been going to the theatres less and less throughout the years. The last film that I watched in theatres was TDKR and before that it was Prometheus. However, I can’t remember what film I’d watched before those two. I’m just waiting for late October-early November for Oscar season to kick off. :O)