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|The Expendables 2
dir Simon West
scr Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone
prd Basil Iwanyk, Avi Lerner, Danny Lerner, Kevin King Templeton, John Thompson, Les Weldon
with Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nan Yu, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Jet Li
release UK 16.Aug.12, US 17.Aug.12
12/US Lionsgate 1h42
On the job: Yu, Crews, Stallone, Couture and Lundgren
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Although there's been no attempt to tone down the first film's bloodthirsty hyperviolence or dim-witted plotting, this sequel is a massive improvement simply because they have fun with the premise. As a result, so do we.
Barney (Stallone) and his team of ageing mercenaries are coerced by Church (Willis) into heading into hostile territory to retrieve a top secret electronic gadget. Most shocking is the fact that Church insists that a woman, Maggie (Yu), joins them. And when things go wrong, Barney leads the gang on a grisly revenge mission against a nasty villain (Van Damme) who's callously putting humanity in peril. Along the way they're joined by Church and Trench (Schwarzenegger), and get help from lone-wolf Booker (Norris).
As with the first movie, the dialog is so blunt that it gives very little insight into characters or plot and certainly never explores the issues raised by the story. As in Stallone's other action scripts, there's a total disregard for human life: if someone looks vaguely shifty, shoot them. Hundreds of anonymous people are massacred in this film, and only a few are actually established as baddies. And important central ideas of camaraderie and justice are so thinly established that they almost don't exist.
But then it's irrelevant that the plot doesn't make sense. Or that there are so many continuity errors that we begin to think there must be a magical hidden dimension (exactly where is that jet ski door on Barney's plane?). And with a movie this corny, does it matter that it includes painfully inept performances from usually skilled actors? Amid a sea of hair dye and botox, relative youngsters Statham, Hemsworth and Yu are the only recognisable human beings.
So it's good that the filmmakers pack every scene with sparky banter, clunky innuendo, fetishistic costumes and references to the stars' other action franchises. These are amusing, but not as laugh-out-loud hilarious as Barney's philosophical musings. "Why do the ones who deserve to live end up dying," he wonders, "and the ones who deserve to die end up living?" Whether or not you spot the critical flaw in that reasoning, you'll have fun with this empty-headed romp.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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