When it comes to film sequels it’s often advisable to have seen the first film in order to fully grasp and comprehend what on earth is going on in the second. However if you are yet to see The Expendables then fear not, because this, regrettably, is just as nonsensical and emotionally detached as the first, free of any palpable narrative. It’s just men. With big guns, and even bigger muscles. Again.
Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Barney Ross, a leading figure in the Expendables – a remorseless group of mercenaries reunited by Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to conduct a task initially considered as an easy pay-check, yet when something disastrous happens to their team courtesy of and aptly named villain ‘Jean Vilain’ (Jean-Claude Van Damme) suddenly the task ahead goes beyond being simply work, as they seek revenge.
Barney is joined by Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and newcomer Maggie (Nan Yu) amongst others, as the breakneck collective go on the search for revenge, whilst also hoping to relieve the world of an immensely powerful weapon. Presenting a vast display of devastation and destruction, the Expendables find themselves in enemy territory, hoping that between them they have enough to save the planet.
If you actually analyse this picture from a critical mindset, it’s a quite terrible piece of film making. The acting is appalling at best, and the script is atrocious and elementary. However, despite the illogical and preposterous nature of the picture, the very fact that absolutely everybody involved is completely aware that the film is rubbish works as a real saving grace, deeming the ridiculous aspects somewhat comedic, letting director Simon West off the hook in many instances – as this much celebrated cast of action heroes certainly can’t be accused of not being able to laugh at themselves. On the verge of being pastiche, at times you fully expect Stallone to turn to camera and just wink knowingly.
Therefore when viewing this film in the right frame of mind, it’s actually really good fun, and easy to get lost in, as it’s just non-stop action from start to finish, with a plethora of predictable one liners littered across the script. As a result it’s difficult to leave The Expendables 2 disappointed as anyone who does go to see it will surely know exactly what they’re letting themselves in for, and in that respect it does not disappoint. If a film doesn’t take itself seriously then we have a duty as the paying audience not to either, otherwise it becomes impossible to enjoy it. It has to work both ways.
West gives his audience exactly what they want to see – even dropping the needless romantic sub-plot that jarred much of the first film. With Terminator references and continuous cameo appearances for both Arnold Schwarzenegger and other action heroes, West plays up to everything The Expendables stands for – keeping in line with its 1980s, traditional action movie ambience. Although that’s probably because the majority of the cast members are still stuck there. On a side-note, between this all star-cast there is just so much testosterone that you can actually feel it emanating off the screen at points. I had to have a shower as soon as I got home.
There are two different sentiments taken from those who leave The Expendables 2. Those who think it’s terrible but thoroughly enjoyed it, and those who think it’s just terrible. Fortunately, I am within the former category, although this film will always simply be looked upon as a mere novelty, and a somewhat forgettable one at that. A novelty that just so happened to cost close to a hundred million dollars to make, which, if you break it down – is almost a dollar a year for the cast’s ages added together.