Film review: The Expendables 2: Bringing back the memories of their hard-hitting days

Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - August 27, 2012 - 12:00am

Manila, Philippines -  The sight of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis together in one frame is already worth the price of admission. Why, never in our wildest dreams did we think that could happen. Those guys were big! The Terminator, Rambo and John McLane of Die Hard were action heroes for the ages. I know, they happened 30 years ago and they do look old now. But that does not change the fact that there was a time when moviegoers simply adored watching them lick all those bad guys on the screen.

Memories of those hard-hitting days are what make The Expendables 2 such a delight to watch. The second film in what looks like another successful franchise, Expendables 3, is said to be already in the works, builds up on the all-star cast concept of the first but makes everything else bigger. Arnie, Sly and Bruce are returnees along with Jason Statham of The Transporter, Jet Li from Shaolin Temple and Dolph Lundgren of He Man, Masters of the Universe, plus Randy Couture and Terry Crews.

For Expendables 2, added to the ingredients were Chuck Norris of Missing in Action, Jean-Claude van Damme, the Universal Soldier and Liam Hemsworth of The Hunger Games. I know Liam should not be in the list. He was not even born yet when Norris was in Delta Force. I am sure he was added to the cast to bring in younger moviegoers and increase the box-office take. Liam or no Liam though, that is not a problem because Expendables 2 is one of those rare times when the second picture is better than the first.

Mr. Church, played by Willis, has once again gotten his bunch of over-the-hill mercenaries for a supposedly routine job. But one of them gets murdered and this escalates into a full-blown war. “Tear him apart,” orders Church to leader Stallone. In turn, Rambo commands the Expendables to “Track him. Find him. Kill him,” and they do just that. It helps that the prey is Van Damme, a merciless bad guy named Vilain who is harvesting plutonium.

The Muscles from Brussels still has the muscles and the moves. He makes for an impressive bad guy and renders his final battle with Stallone truly exciting. It is just too bad he cannot be with Expendables 3 anymore. On the other hand though, why not? Who cares about logic here? Anything is possible with a film like this one. And take note, that ending is Van Damme’s martial arts against Stallone’s firepower. You know who will win but the fun is in finding out how.

Fun, though brutal, gory and violent is what Expendables 2 is all about. The story is really flimsy but the all systems go action style of director Simon West, he also did the Mechanic and the clever one-liners turn the film into a most enjoyable package. This is not the film that critics like or will take seriously. But then neither does the cast. Truth to tell, Stallone and company come across as boys on a park poking fun at themselves, at what they used to do, the screen images they created and enjoying the experience to the max.

You will like Expendables 2 if you enjoy no let-up action. This one gets started on the bang bangs right before the opening credits and keeps things at a fast pace right up to the end. You will also get lots of laughs at the dialogue, references to famous lines from those action flicks of the ’80s. I am sure you know where “Yipee ki yey!” comes from. And who is being referred to with this one, “If I don’t get this back, I’ll terminate your ass.”

Sergio Leone’s memorable tune from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly comes from the ’60s but it was put to excellent use here as the theme for Norris who is great in his part. It made me wonder, do you think they would bring in Clint Eastwood to reclaim his music in Expendables 3? Who knows, having Dirty Harry around might just balance the gray matter against the testosterone.

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