The Expendables 2

Directed By: Simon West

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger

It's time for the AARP's annual night at the movies, and we've got a few special guests.  Sylvester Stallone, a guy who lives in the past and misses his glory days, will be serving as the MC.  Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be strutting into theaters to jumpstart his dead career.  Chuck Norris will still be Chuck Norris even at his age.  We do have one non-retiree in Bruce Willis.  He's just dropping by to see all of his old friends since he's the only one who's still really in the acting game.  The AARP has entitled this reunion of old action stars as The Expendables 2.

Mr. Church (Willis) has an assignment for Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team of mercenaries. The Expendables have been tasked with recovering the contents of a safe.  When Ross successfully completes this mission, he’ll be even with Church.  A generous man, Church also sends Chinese agent Maggie (Yu Nan) along with the gang.  They recover the contents, but the mission goes awry when Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his mercenaries blindside Ross and his team, kill one of the youngest Expendables, and begin harvesting plutonium to develop a nuclear arsenal.  With vengeance in their hearts, Ross and his team must man up and stop Vilain from thrusting the world into nuclear warfare.

The Expendables 2 is a film that can best be described as having multiple personalities.  The first half of the movie is just horrible.  Despite some admittedly atrocious filmmaking, cheesy writing, and questionable performances from the other cast members, I lay most of the blame squarely on Sylvester Stallone.  As Barney Ross, Stallone really should not be in the game anymore.  He can't act (not that he ever could).  His fight scenes suck.  He certainly shouldn't get so much face time given that there are so many other stars.  He's just too old and his performance is too outdated for even a throwback film.

That being said, the second half of the film works once the AARP gala gets going.  Throwing Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Norris into the mix is a life-saving move for the film.  They take the film from being torturously terrible to likably bad.  They're so bad that it's good.  As Trench, Schwarzenegger is certainly not the Terminator anymore, but he brings some levity to the film every time he claims he'll be back.  He's a trash-talking grumpy old man now, and that works for him.  As Church, Bruce Willis really just brings that same charm he has brought to countless roles over the years.  Because he's not getting his hands too bloody, we definitely need that from him.  He's the premier action star of his generation.  As Booker, Chuck Norris just gets to be awesome.  With all the killing this guy does in the film, Norris has to have the highest body count of all the stars in The Expendables 2.  The Lone Wolf starts riding with the pack.  That's just good business right there.

Of course, the other cast members deliver performances that dabble in mediocrity but are on the whole entertaining.  Jason Statham and Jet Li really should have more prominent roles because they're kicking ass and taking names.  You can't beat classics like these guys.  Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture also deliver plenty of laughs throughout the film.  When they’re not spewing cheesy dialogue, they’re racking up some impressive body counts.  Jean-Claude Van Damme’s so-so portrayal of Jean Vilain gets a pass.  Despite a mediocre performance, I’ll root for this guy over Sylvester Stallone’s Barney Ross any day of the week. 

The Expendables 2 really surprised me.  I came into this movie expecting to write one of the most vicious reviews I had written in a long time.  I came out mildly satisfied.  The film takes itself less seriously than its predecessor, which really works well.  If they’re going to be crappy, why not make it funny?  The comedy angle makes the movie much better.  I wouldn’t call it a good movie though.  The Expendables 2 gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a couple of gin and tonics with this one.