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Expendables 2 Review
When the original Expendables came to theaters in 2010, it promised to bring back all the things that fans of testosterone-fueled, 80s action movies loved. Despite its flaws of uneven tone, shaky cam and too much CGI, it mostly delivered on what it set out to do. Did its sequel improve on the formula, or is this movie expendable? Continue reading to find out.
I hear critics throw jabs at the plots for movies like this, but it seems to me that they don't get the bigger picture. The plots for Expendables 2 and the first one are the exact type of plot it needs to be for the movie it is. Did Commando have a deep and engrossing plot? No, all it was, was Arnold's daughter gets kidnapped, so he has to rescue her. No plot twists, no twist endings, just pure setup for action. I can name tons of movies that fans of the genre (I'm one of them) consider classics and most, if not all of the movies mentioned, would have a simple premise that allows for some great action. So yes critics, by The Godfather standards, Expendables 2 comes up short, but by the action genre standard, the standard it should be measured by, it's a solid eight out of ten.
The plot has our group of Expendables trying to complete what should be an easy job. Needless to say, things go awry and they find themselves coming face-to-face with a sinister villain played by Jean Claude Van Damme. After this encounter the group is on a race to stop him from obtaining large quantities of plutonium.
The plot does a great job servicing the action, which is exactly what a movie like this should have done. The character motivations are solid and the movie moves at a good pace. The locales are much more interesting this time around and provides the movie with a unique look.
The majority of the cast excluding Mickey Rourke returns for the sequel. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Trench) and Bruce Willis (Church) are given bigger roles and both partake in action this time around. The new guns include Liam Hemsworth, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Chuck Norris. All involved play their parts well. Liam Hemsworth is convincing as the fresh faced ex-Army, turned Expendable. Jean Claude Van Damme pulls off the sleazy bad guy named Jean Vilain with ease. Chuck Norris isn't the best actor out of the bunch, but his character was written in a very funny way and had the theater I attemded laughing. When it comes to characters, my favorite change in the movie was the one done to Dolph Lundgren's Gunnar character. The first one played him up as an unstable villain of sorts who didn't get much screen time. This time around he gets plenty of screen time and is actually a funnier and more well developed character. Randy Couture held his own when it came to acting chops; much better than in the first movie as well. All the characters that were enjoyable in Expendables return, only this time they have better writing to coincide with them.
The Character's Section is a great place to highlight the much better writing given to each of these characters. The first movie had some heavy handed dialogue that clashed with the lighthearted throwback that they were trying to accomplish. Now, the dramatic moments flow with the movie rather than being shoe horned into the movie.
The greatest improvement is how funny this movie is. One liners come like machine gun fire and every character seems to have a couple funny lines throughout the movie. I was surprised at how great the dialogue was. It kept the non-action scenes nearly as entertaining, which leads me to...
I've saved the most important aspect of this movie for last. Everything that was wrong with the action in the first movie has been solved. The action scenes are shot infinitely better this time around. The first movie was plagued by shaky cam and fast editing, two things that are absent this time. While there is some CGI blood, there's less of it and squibs have a stronger role in the effects department. The longest action scene in the first movie was the finale at around 15 to 20 minutes with the rest of the sequences being much shorter. Each of Expendables 2 action scenes are very long and frantic with at least two being around 15 to 20 minutes long each. The Expendables 2 delivered in the action department.
The opening action scene alone is one of the best openings in an action film ever. There really isn't much more I can tell you about this movie's action scenes without going into detail and ruining the fun or you.
There are no flawless movies, and my review may seem more glowing then you may think a movie like this deserves. However when I eat a hot dog, I don't judge its flavor compared to how a hamburger tastes. I judge it on its own merits. In the same way, Expendables 2 accomplished everything I hoped the first one would and as it stands, it's a movie that the 80s action genre would be proud to have as its own. I give this movie a