Heather's Movie Review: The Expendables 2
Is it possible to make a good movie sequel without ruining what made the first movie work? Usually, most sequels tend to fall short of many viewers' expectations (The Hangover Part II and Spiderman 3). In the case of the theatrical release of The Expendables 2, the movie's premise actually lived up to the original and also managed to add a new sense of adventure to it as well. Hang on to your seats and literally be prepared to get blown away.
The Expendables 2 followed Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) as he led his unique team of Mercenaries, known as the Expendables, into dangerous situations on a regular basis. The group always managed to narrowly survive each one by sheer luck. Their last mission ushered in the exit of Yin Yang (Jet Li) and the addition of their newest member Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) to ease the pain. Billy was a former soldier who was looking for something new to believe in and he was settling in nicely with the Expendables. He's quickly developed a strong bond with Barney that could outmatch his long standing friendship with Lee Christmas (Jason Statham). Much to Barney's dismay, Lee was planning to take his relationship with his once unfaithful girlfriend to the next level.
Unfortunately, the group has little down time when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) contacted Barney to collect on a forgotten favor. The team had to get a box with the help of the mysterious Maggie (Yu Nan). She is fitting right in with the gang and is getting a little too much attention from Gunner (Dolph Lundgren). Sadly, Maggie showed more interest in Barney, even though he wasn't willing to pursue anything. Can the group come together after a devastating loss to deal with the lethal Vilain (Jean-Claude van Damme)?
Of course, the obvious answer to that question was a resounding yes. The Expendables team worked best when they were a united front than at each other's throats. When the team did squabble, the tone was a little more humorous than dramatic. Whenever Statham and Stallone shared a scene together, viewers expected to be kept in stitches as the duo affectionately teased each other. One primary example was whenever Lee was on the phone with his girlfriend, which seemed to provide Barney with seemingly endless delight. The movie also continued to poke fun at the wild and wacky Gunner, which Lundgren played to the hilt. He even made light of his scholarly background and how he broke into Hollywood. Anyone who was willing to poke fun at his own past deserved to earn the laughs, even if it was at their own expense.
In terms of the plot, it was paper thin, which wasn't much of a stretch for an action movie. Viewers flocked to the theater to see the explosions and not for some Oscar worthy performances. The story can be boiled down to loyalty and revenge. Nothing brings rival action stars together like a villain, such as the campy van Damme, who had a plan for world domination. He made his bad buy memorable with his signature high kicks and willingness to poke holes at his action star past. His expected one-on-one battle with Stallone was well worth the wait and delivered a predictable but satisfying conclusion. It was also nice to see Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris on the big screen together as they paid some playful homage to their action movie glory days. To the delight of many moviegoers, their presence also helped to outline another film was clearly in the works. Hopefully, it's sooner rather than later.
The Expendables 2 is in theaters everywhere.
Verdict: The perfect cure for the summertime blues that doesn't take itself too seriously, which is a very good thing.
Movie Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)