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Roundhouse Review: “The Expendables 2”

The Avengers. The Amazing Spider-Man. The Dark Knight Rises.  Sure, these are all the movies action fans were dying to see this summer. But the cream of the crop is clearly the sequel to 2010’s “The Expenables”. I mean, just look at that picture. Just look at that cast. How can this not be an action movie fan’s wet dream? Our own gang of Internet mercenaries invaded theaters. Their take is below. (Reviews contain spoilers.)

Expendables 2 is the definition of Everything Action.  If we ever need to explain what the site is in the future, we can just point to this movie and say, “it’s that”.  It’s also one of the most fun and action packed movies of the year.

The mission for The Expendables this time is personal as a dangerous terrorist leader, Jean Villain (played by Jean Claude Van Damme) kills one of the team and the group is out to kill him and also stop him from unleashing 5 tons of plutonium into the black market.  Plot is definitely secondary for a movie like this but the revenge plot is great for keeping the plot moving forward.

One of the weaker aspects of the original Expendables is that one of the villains was not very interesting *cough* David Zayas *cough*.  Thankfully you had Eric Roberts being awesome to balance it out but Van Damme takes it to another level.  He is absolutely ruthless and intelligent and Van Damme looks like he also got into great shape for the movie.  The man can still round house kick better than guys half his age.  On the Expendables side, Statham easily has the best fight scenes, including an amazing fight in a church where he single handedly takes down about half a dozen goons with knives and an incense burner.  He also gets to go toe to toe with Van Damme henchmen, Scott Adkins.  Dolph Lundgren is also extremely welcome back into the team after being a smacked out, traitorous junkie in the first movie.  After going through the Expendables version of rehab (getting shot by Stallone), Gunnar is sobered up and delivering tons of hilarious one liners along with beat downs.  I also love the fact that for many of the characters, but Gunnar in particular, they incorporate trivia and real life elements into them.  It’s revealed that Gunnar has a masters in chemical engineering, just like Lundgren in real life.  Of course you also have Arnold, Bruce Willis and Chuck effing Norris joining the cast as well.  The only disappointing part of the cast is that Jet Li is basically absent from the entire movie.  He helps the gang in the opening action sequence but then literally parachutes out of the movie.

You wouldn’t think it was possible but Expendables 2 also ups the action in pretty much every way from the original movie.  The opening sequence of 2 could easily have been the climax of the original movie and everything from the violence to the explosions is turned up to 11 for 2.  The climax of Expendables 2, which is a giant shootout in an airport, is an action fan’s ultimate dream as Stallone, Willis, Schwarenegger and Norris are all on screen, building up a body count into the triple digits.  Also, Stallone vs Van Damme, dear god, yes.

The only real complaint or negative I would level against the movie is that it still has some cheesy emotional moments, like anything involving Liam Hemsworth’s Billy the Kid and a scene with Stallone that is similiar, but no where near as bad, to the Mickey Rourke “I lost my soul” monologue from the first movie.  The rest of the movie is so balls to the wall and fun that to see it try to be serious is a little jarring and out of place.

Overall, if you are on this site, you must see The Expendables 2.  It is old school action featuring pretty much all the gods of action and everything you loved about the first movie is amped up for the sequel.  A must watch.

4.5 out of 5

When Sylvester Stallone set out to make “The Expendables” around two years ago, he was trying to make the best action film of all time. A real throwback to the 80’s and 90’s action movies of his hey-day. When people anxiously awaited the next kick-ass movie starring Arnold, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis and Sly himself.

Well… they’re all back, as Arnie puts it, in “The Expendables 2” — a film that tries to be more crazy and more kick-ass than the first installment. And it is.

The movie opens with a rescue mission led by the Expendables as they bust through a remote village with brute force. (How else?) Armed with vehicles adorned with phrases like “Bad Attitude” and “Coming Soon”, these guys know how to get down to brass tacks and have some fun with it as well. They haven’t changed from their previous escapades.

From there, we get a closer look at the crew as they have a new member: the Army-fresh sniper Billy “the Kid” Timmons. Played by Liam Hemsworth, Billy flexes his muscles as well in the opening mission. He later confides in Barney Ross (Sly Stallone) that a mission gone awry in the Afghan war set him off to find something else. And although he’s enjoying his time with the old crew, he longs to live a peaceful life with his French girlfriend. Ross, still remembering what Tool told him in the last movie, can relate somewhat. This mercenary life can be lonely.

It isn’t long before the Expendables are brought into another mission. Church (Bruce Willis) tells Ross that he owes him big time, and this time they need to recover a device stored in a safe from a downed airplane before it gets into the wrong hands. Joined by the mysterious Maggie Chen (Yu Han), the mission goes off as planned, but as the crew attempts to leave, they are stopped by the ruthless Jean Vilian (played by the Muscles from Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme). And here is where the movie takes off. Following the death of an Expendable (guess who) by the hands of Vilian leaves Ross and the gang out for revenge.

They, of course, bump into their old friends along the way. Arnold and Bruce have greatly expanded roles from the first film, while Chuck Norris’ appearance was pleasantly and surprisingly longer than your typical cameo. And who could also forget the one-liners? The best ones are saved for Arnold and Chuck; I won’t spoil them here. But sandwiched in the film’s ridiculous third act, they made me more giddy than expected.

That’s a good thing. You don’t go into a movie like this expecting some grand movie with a message. You go to see aging action stars, bulging veins and all, completely obliterate the baddies. With “The Expendables 2”, that’s what you get. Fans of the old-school action movies will totally get it. If that applies to you, then “Expendables 2” is highly recommended.

4 out of 5



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