Director: Simon West
Writers: Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone (screenplay) Ken Kaufman, David Agosto, Richard Wenk (story)
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger
When a terrorist kills Billy, the youngest member of the Expendables, the team’s out for blood. The writers and actors did a bang up job on the opener, inspiring a lot of hate for the folks who’d take down a kid like Billy. I extend a nod to Liam Hemsworth, (Hunger Games, The Last Song) for making a strong impression in a short space.
This second round of The Expendables is actually better than the first. This time, they don’t attempt to take themselves seriously and that’s how they make the scenarios work. It’s a madcap mix of one-liners and past character-inspired gags that leave you laughing in between spates of breathless action and gratuitous, sometimes unbelievable, action sequences. Yes, I expect to see Mythbusters devoting a show to this film and it’ll be darn near as much fun as the theater.
Van Damme is the consummate bad guy with the best name since Snidely Whiplash. Jean Villain is a Satanist, terrorist, and a big threat to world security rolled up in one still-gorgeous package.
Along with the bangs and blow-ups, the soundtrack drives action and adventure. Brian Tyler (Battle Los Angeles, Rambo, Law Abiding Citizen) kept hard-driving music running all the way through the film. This would be a great soundtrack for a run or any other strenuous workout.
Director Simon West (The Mechanic, Human Target) did a credible job riding herd on so many talents. If I had any quibble with the execution of this film, it would be for occasionally muddled video quality.
The only downside is if you didn’t grow up in the 80’s watching the original Rambo, Die Hard, Terminator, etc and you miss the inside jokes. If you’re an action-adventure junkie and love these actors in their heyday, you’re going to think this film is great. If you’ve not seen these films, you’ll still enjoy the hard-driving action, but will occasionally wonder why the old geezer sitting closer to the screen is laughing his head off.
Rebecca McFarland Kyle, August 2012