Look, I know I’m not going to blow anyone’s mind here, but this movie isn’t very good. I’ll start there, but I will end this review by saying that I respect what Sly is trying to do.
The first Expendables movie was pretty bad. It was ridiculous amounts of explosions, gun fire, and CG knives. It was held together by the thinnest of plot lines, and no one should be expected to care about any person in said movie. However, it made a fair amount of money, and a sequel was almost all but guaranteed.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the only way to “improve” on the original bro-fest is by adding more action stars and blowing up more shit. Expendables 2 adds Van Damme as the new villain and Scott Adkins (I had to look him up) as his second in command. Also along for the ride are more prominent roles from Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as newcomers to the series Liam Hemsworth and good ol’ Chuck Norris. Casting this movie must be equal parts nightmare and a dream. I’m sure Sly just has to call these people up and say “Hey do you want to be in my movie about blowing shit up?” and it’s a quick yes or no. Jet Li earns more respect from me in this installment by being the only sensible one to duck out after about 10mins of the movie. Smart move.
Expendables 2 is less about explanation and more about obfuscation. It seems to be a movie about finishing a job for Bruce Willis, but ends up being more about stopping terrorists. At one point it was basically Temple of Doom. Most of the action is just there so promote the next explosion. So many times did I wonder “Why would they do that? What’s the point of this again?” I realize it’s not made to make you question your own morals or read deeper into life’s meanings, but come on.
The sheer amount of self-referential one liners in this movie is offensive. I get it. You all are action stars and you all have your own personal catch phrases. In the span of no more than 10-15 seconds I heard two references to Terminator, and followed it up by referencing Die Hard, and Rambo. It was like Chris Farley was directing from the “Chris Farley Show”. “You… you remember that one time, when you were in that movie… and you said ‘Yippie Ki Yay’? That was awesome.”
The Expendables 2 is a movie that was made to just turn your brain off and have fun. I don’t know that I allowed myself to enter such a coma-like state, but I guess it was fun? They at least used real knives in some cases or made the CG ones look much better. There was a lot of shit blowing up, and a lot of blood. If you looked up “Senseless Violence In Films” this one would be near the top of the list. I can’t see how they could make another one of these with out these old guys falling out dead. Besides that, I don’t know who else they would add to the list. Maybe get those two twins from Double Trouble, or Bolo Yeung. Also, and I said this during the first one, is there an uglier man than Dolph Lundgren? He looks even worse in this one because Mickey Rourke isn’t in there beside him.
(I just looked and apparently Expendables 3 is in pre-production. Sly is looking to get Wesley Snipes and Jackie Chan involved. Chan won’t do it, but I bet Snipes will. He’s got bills to pay. Also there was talk they were looking to get Nick Cage involved.)
The one thing I will say about the two movies is that I respect what Sly (I imagine) is trying to do. When you step back and look at the bigger picture, he’s just trying to make his own, very adult and graphic, version of a GI Joe episode. Look at his crew’s names. There’s Caesar, Toll Road, Trench, and Christmas. These all sound like names from the show. He may not have pulled it off perfectly, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the actual GI Joe movie they released. I can respect that.