The Expendables 2
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 2nd September 2012
As in the Oceans Eleven franchise, a bunch of the biggest names in movie history share screentime and no doubt massive pay cheques while appearing to have a better time making the film than we have watching it.
Sylvester Stallone’s world-weary mercenary is back, enlisting the help of beefcake and brawn including Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren, to follow some MacGuffin of a narrative to some place for some reason, with a handful of self-referential jokes about growing old and mainly a lot of explosions. In this script, the sword is clearly mightier than any pen.
The cool poster (which is better than the movie) says it all: huge names, huge muscles, huge guns. There’s much to be said for this as entertainment, and it is thus disappointing that every expense is spared in creating a story or script that is anything other than cliched and, worse, recycled. Once again, Stallone co-writes himself a potential love interest (Chinese actress Nan Yu, reunited here with co-star Lundgren from 2007’s Diamond Dogs). The thrills only come with the introduction of each familiarly haggard face, the best of whose entry is serenaded by a classic western trill that had my audience cheering. A surprising addition is Australian Liam Hemsworth as the rookie renegade, brought in no doubt to satisfy the younger female half of the date-night demographic.
Overall, the reunion of so many action movie legends is one big gimmick, but if that’s all you’re after, you’ll love it.