Movie Review: The Expendables 2

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A team of tough guys (and a GIRL!) get together to…steal plutonium from a thief or something.

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Simon West, 2012

I actually have no idea what the plot of this movie was. I didn’t understand a word of what Sylvester Stallone was mumbling, and he’s the main character, so that didn’t help. At the beginning a bunch of mostly old muscly men who I assume are the titular Expendables rescue Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Chinese businessman, before shoving the latter out of a plane (with a parachute). Then Bruce Willis calls them and says something about plutonium, and the only piece of eye candy in the group is killed by Jean-Claude Van Damme playing a character called Vilain. (He’s the bad guy, in case you didn’t get that from the name.) The old dudes vow revenge, then they shoot a lot of people and blow shit up while making very bad jokes, and Stallone beats up JCVD. With chains! There’s also a subplot that I think is meant to be romantic between Stallone and the only girl in the Expendables, who he initially didn’t want to “tag along” because ew, vagina.

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We hate vaginas: the movie.

I was so disconnected from this movie from the moment it started. I mean, I love a good action movie (hint: this wasn’t one), but you have to establish a reason to care before dumping your guys in a tank and blowing through…a village? An army base? They were killing like, everyone, in the first 5 minutes, so let’s hope there weren’t any civillians there. Terry Crews gets a few funny lines and Jason Statham gets to be alarmingly competent both at speaking clearly and beating people up, but none of them are playing what you’d call a character. It’s just a bunch of action stars being action stars and yelling so that the veins in their necks pop out and being generally self-indulgent. The moment of Chuck Norris’s introduction is jaw-droppingly egotistical (hint: he makes his own Chuck Norris jokes). The only person who seems to be putting in any effort is Liam Hemsworth, who is rewarded for trying to inject heart into his very contrived story about his girlfriend back home by being killed off quick. Before he even takes his shirt off. It’s a crying shame. The women are treated in ways ranging from indifference to outright hatred; the action girl, Maggi (Nan Yu), moves from one to the other in the course of the movie (it seems like they might make a point of disproving Stallone’s misogyny, but no, he just gets her to fall for him instead).

The so-called “script” is loaded with such zingers as Jason Statham dressed as a priest and declaring “I now pronounce you…man and knife!”, Arnie’s “I’m back!”, and Stallone’s “rest in pieces”. There’s no arc or storyline that was in the least bit comprehensible (not that I was paying close attention since, you know, I pretty much didn’t care). There are bits with tanks, explosions, and chain fights, though really Statham’s priest fight is the best bit of choreographed action in the thing. Most of the action was too big and messy for any individual stand-out moments. There’s a lot of nostalgia for the classic action of the 80’s peppered throughout this movie, but it seems like they missed the actual action concepts and awesome moments that MADE those movies so well-loved. Just throwing out a quip after brutally murdering a nameless minion and being ragingly misogynistic doesn’t actually cut it. Oh, also, Charisma Carpenter is in this! They hate her. Stupid vaginas.

The Expendables 2 on IMDb

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