Sylvester Stallone and his band of ageing, jacked-up super-soldiers incoherently grunt, punch and shoot their way through Eastern Europe here in the sequel to 2010’s The Expendables. Although an obvious improvement, this offering still fails to be anything other than cannon fodder on an entertainment level.
The team are out for blood, and lots of it, in this instalment as they track down evil Jean-Claude Van Damme who has not only killed one of their own, but also has deadly plans that could change the world for the worse, the crafty devil.
As should be almost instantly evident the film’s plot, unlike its beefy heroes, is wafer-thin and relies on both manic shoot-ups and banter to get through its 100 minute runtime. Although the first set-piece, set in Nepal, is actually rather entertaining and gets the film off to a good start, the rest of the action is disappointingly restrained. This is surprising given director Simon West’s past work includes the completely over-the-top and enjoyable Con Air.
One of the film’s strengths comes in the form of Mr Van Damme who has proven that he can do weird self-mockery through his ‘Coors Light’ beer commercials and he certainly has a go at making the villain, imaginatively called Vilain to avoid confusion, seem entertaining. It’s a shame then that he is underused and leaves without really having had much to do.
Thankfully more humour is present this time around which makes proceedings far more bearable although the jokes about how old and shit they’ve become do wear by the end. Also welcome are self-references to the actors’ previous work which are a laugh to begin with as Terry Crews tells Arnie (in a beefed-up role) that “he’ll be terminated”. However these also tend to drag and can’t help but feel forced relatively quickly.
Compared to its predecessor, The Expendables 2 does a lot more right; it doesn’t take itself so seriously and is infinitely more enjoyable because of it. Does that mean it’s a good film? Nope.
The Expendables 2 (2012), directed by Simon West, is released on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK by Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK, Certificate 15.