DIRECTOR: Simon West
CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude van Damme, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundrgen and Jet Li.
CLASSIFICATION: PG 13
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
Probably no movie will make you miss the 1980s and ’90s more than The Expendables 2. The actors, the catchy lines and the buff bodies all take you back to a culture that was ruled by Rambo and The Terminator.
Also, with a cast that includes the Planet Hollywood trio of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, among others, you’d expect nothing but big guns and even bigger explosions.
Co-starring Jean-Claude van Damme, Chuck Norris, Jet Li and Jason Staham, you would expect nothing short of serious black-belt action. Latecomers to the big screen such as Terry Crews bring a bit of action blended well with measured doses of humour.
But, sadly, that is not what you get with The Expendables 2. Like the US Olympic basketball team, the film’s cast comprises actors who wouldn’t normally work together so when they do, it is something to look forward to – or so we would have thought.
In the second instalment of the franchise we meet the team of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Stallone) and they are on yet another mission. They follow orders on how to carry out the mission from their boss, Church (Willis), who has a score to settle with one Jean Villain (Van- Damme). As the heroes carry out their mission they soon learn Villain is no match for them and it becomes apparent that they need to up their game if they are to win.
The first let-down is that you know all these guys from their individual hit movies so you expect that clout to count for something, but that is not the case. After uniting the legendary actors, the director lets them down by asking them to work with a weak plot. You want to enjoy the film, but it lacks the ability to make you care for any of the characters.
You also can’t help but notice that all your heroes are too old to be trying to be cool. Most of them are now grandfathers in real life so the youthful personas they try to pin on their strikers just don’t stick.
Then come the plotholes. Norris’ character seems to have been an after-thought because he doesn’t gel well with the story. Li has so little screen time you wonder why they bothered to cast him.
At one point Stallone and Van Damme are in a fist-fight and it just looks wrong. Van Damme is a martial arts star, Stallone just a fake Rocky, so they are unevenly matched. Had Van Damme been up against Li, Norris or Statham, then we’d have a proper match.
It is at this point that you also wonder who else is missing from the line-up. Michael Jai White, Cynthia Rothrock, Billy Blanks and Steven Seagal come to mind.
But if you are a diehard fan, you will probably see past all that and concentrate on the dialogue which has a lot of satire drawn from previous movies and the actors’ real-life experiences.
That, too, can only go so far because come the movie’s end you see that there is no feasible script and feel cheated by the heroes you once looked up to.
If there is another instalment, the producers need to find some budding writer to come up with an excellent story and then this franchise could go far.
If you liked… The Expendables, Rambo, Die Hard, The Terminator, ‘90s action films… you’ll like this.