The Expendables 2

More Is More, More or Less

Sly and Co. are back for another ripper yarn of an adventure blowing up shit and shooting lots of people. As usual, nobody seriously gets hit or dies, Sylvester’s character Barny gets hit twice, but he’s wearing a bulletproof vest (“yay!”) and everybody gets to show off something including Dolph Lundgren’s comic turn. The gang is back for more, where more of everything is crammed into this nonsensical adventure.

What’s Good About It

As with the first film, this one seems to have artistic pretensions. They’re mere pretensions, but they are there, even in the muck and grind of low-brow action movies-ville, it’s throbbing in there with a heart of pulp.

It’s impressive they’ve managed to collar together all these stars of yesteryear. It’s supposed to be a smorgasbord of Action stars, let loose to do their thing, and their thing mostly consists of shooting and maiming and  blowing things up. Dialogue is to a minimum with a good dose of cheese. I’m not convinced this is all good, but if I bothered to watch it, it must be because I wanted to see Arnie say “I’ll be back.”

What’s Bad About It

Pedestrian plotting, lame revenge plot, all-too-convenient appearances of Chuck Norris, and there’s absolutely nothing you can take seriously, so it feels like a giant waste of time when you finish watching it.

It’s like when you go to McDonalds because you’ve forgotten how awful it is, then you finish the burger and you vow never to have another McDonalds’ burger. This film is exactly that kind of product. The strange thing is that world is in some marginal ay better with McDonalds and Coca Cola and films like this. It’s hard to explain but easy to show – Growing up in communist Eastern Europe really sucked before the arrival of McDonalds, Coca Cola and Hollywood action movies. Now it sucks much less. You might bag out marginal use-value products like fast food and entertainment but they do have a rightful, net-positive place in the world.

What’s Interesting About It

It’s not nearly as interesting as the first one. Even Chuck Norris’ participation is a little dull and not much flash.

The Return of Arnie

After the cameo in the first one, Arnie is “back” as he is fond of saying and firing away in action sequences. If the ravages of age were unkind on Sly in the first one, then the ravages are much harsher with the former Governator. He looks stiffer than ever before and somewhat saggy of skin and receding of hair.

That being said I do welcome Arnie back to the world of movies and fiction in general. It restores a sense of order in the universe.

O Bruce!

I think Bruce Willis fares worse in this film as well. Once upon a time he was Hudson Hawk getting a stern talking-to from an aged James Coburn. Now he’s the aged dude giving stern talk to Sly and it just doesn’t wash.

The star omnibus quality of this film sort of wears out about the time Jet Li parachutes out of the story line never to come back. Bruce Willis never seems to find the right tone for his participation in this film. As a result he comes across as Bruce Willis floundering between irony and bad taste.

I hope they don’t make another one of these.

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