It's a pretty big deal when Hollywood's heavyweights sign on to make a picture together; this explains all the (deserved) hype surrounding 1995's Heat
, which united Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on screen for the first time. So the announcement of the cast of the first Expendables
film, comprised of a group of '80s action heroes, made a lot of waves. Now the ragtag group of heroes are back in The Expendables 2
– and this time they're here to have fun.
The team just wrapped up a mission in China when Barney (Sylvester Stallone) is hit up to repay a favour – an assignment he consequently can't refuse. The job comes with an additional string in the form of a female team member named Maggie (Nan Yu). Sent to recover an item from a downed plane in Albania, the team run into another interested party and viciously lose one of their men. From there the mission becomes revenge and they begin to track criminal mastermind Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme).
The original cast reprise their roles, more comfortable in their parts and visibly enjoying their performances. Former cameos, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, are developed into small supporting roles, boosted by other gleeful appearances, including Chuck Norris. Van Damme plays the ideal villain, using the real animosity between him and Stallone to fuel a wicked performance.
This film is everything fans had hoped for the first instalment because this time it's not worried about taking itself too seriously. It owns its position in the genre as a sort of homage to action movies (and stars) gone by, reaching as far back as the '70s for this picture. The most obvious indications of this are the numerous lines referencing some of the actors' better known characters (none of which were ad libbed) and the hilarious "Chuck Norris fact" that becomes a highlight of the film.
As in the first movie, the style of violence and blood harkens back to the old school style of on screen killings. Squibs explode violently, spattering the screen and windows; a series of men impressively lose their heads via a talented sharpshooter; and the hand-to-hand combat scenes are fast and hard-hitting – particularly when frying pans are involved.
The Expendables 2
is the best sort of action movie: thin plot, lots of fighting and captivating heroes.
Director: Simon West
Starring: Sylvester Stallone
, Liam Hemsworth
and Jason Statham