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November 28, 2012

Movie Review: The Expendables 2 (2012)

Directed by Simon West
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Liam Hemsworth and Randy Couture
Run Time: 103 minutes

The team from The Expendables is back in action once again and this time they sign on for a mission that looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But things go sour, and one of their own is killed by a psychotic terrorist-for-hire. Hell bent for payback, they cut a swath of destruction through enemy territory and mow down everything in their path. In the midst of the mayhem, they must also shut down an unexpected threat in the nick of time- preventing five tons of weapons grade plutonium from falling into the wrong hands, as well as save a village that is being tortured and used as slave labor by the mercenaries.

On paper this film sounds like a totally boss idea- Assemble a cast comprised of the cream of the crop of Hollywood action-movie bad-asses. Stallone, Statham, Van Damme, Li, Lundgren, Norris, Willis, Schwarzenegger, Crews, Couture and Hemsworth. How could you possibly go wrong? Well, from a financial stand-point, its apparently a slam-dunk, as this movie made an absolute killing at the world-wide box-office, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now for some people I know this is going to be a pretty fun movie, as your going to see all the stars you’ve loved watching over the last 30 years or so. Your gonna get lots of action, explosions and enough bloody kills to make Otto Ittenbach slightly envious. Your also going to be treated to Jean Claude Van Damme playing a vicious villain (my personal favorite character in the film).

The problem I had with this film though was the fact that after I was through being star-struck by the cast (about 10 minutes in) , I came to the realization that the film-makers assumed we would all stay star-struck till the end credits rolled and had forgotten that they actually had to make a movie that people had to sit through. They forgot that you need to have a script instead of a steady stream of worn-out catch phrases. (Did we really need to hear Arnold tell Stallone that, “He’d be back”? Or hear Chuck Norris telling Chuck Norris jokes?) And the plot seemed like something that could have been whipped-up in about 10 minutes- Bad guys kill a team member and steal the uranium, good guys come to the rescue and get their revenge. Deep, deep stuff.

Ensemble movies, when done right can be a total blast. Movies like The Dirty Dozen and The Magnificent Seven are widely regarded as action film classics and one of the main reasons for this is the fact that the film makers took the time to develop each character and gave them all integral roles within the confines of the story. The Expendables 2 though, is nothing more then a Sylvester Stallone movie with Jason Statham as the side-kick and everyone else is just a bit player. The one thing they had in common though was the fact that their characters were all as one-dimensional as a crayon drawing. Hard-core fans will probably be able to overlook the glaring deficiencies of this movie but for casual action-movie fans like myself, it just seemed so played-out.

As bad as I may be making this sound, there are still some note-worthy extras included on the disc that are cool enough that overall I would still give the whole package a passing grade. The special features are actually stacked to the roof and in my opinion are twice as enjoyable a viewing experience as the feature film is. The DVD also comes with a digital copy which can be instantly streamed or downloaded.

*Audio Commentary (director Simon West)
*Gods of War: Assembling Earths Mightiest Antiheroes
*Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 80‘s & the rise of the action film
*On The Assault: The real-life weaponry of The Expendables
*Guns For Hire: The Real Expendables
*Deleted Scenes
*Gag Reel

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