Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Expendables 2

Year: 2012
Director: Simon West
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Yu Nan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Scott Adkins

Plot: Barney Ross and company are hired by Mr Church yet again for a seemingly simple mission. However things go wrong and one of them ends up dead. The team plan their revenge against the man responsible, Jean Vilain, who has plans to steal 5 tons of weapons grade plutonium.

Review: The Expendables is the older, more grounded, more reality based version of The Avengers. And more violent too. I had much higher hopes for this film after being slightly disappointed with the last one, and thankfully this sequel improves on a few things.

Having Simon West on board as director is a step in the right direction as he has a keener eye than Stallone. With him in charge, the cinematography is better. The fight scenes are now clearer and the lighting has improved as well. Stallone does throw in the CGI blood technique he used in the last Rambo flick, so expect this to be bloody as heck, I sure didn't mind though.

Stallone continues to be the main man here, since it's his baby after all. Statham carries on the bickering bro-mance with Stallone like in the previous film, which provides some of the humour here. But what is surprising is seeing Dolph Lundgren becoming the funny guy here, with his character occasionally talking about his knowledge in chemistry and how he got a degree before joining the team. Van Damme, after years of being the hero, gets to be the bad guy this time and delivers well, though I still prefer seeing him as the former. As Vilain, Van Damme puts on the typical action flick bad guy character, corny lines and all, and throws down with Stallone at the film's climax, which is a highlight of the movie. Statham himself gets a fight scene with Scott Adkins (Weapon XI from Wolverine), which is brief but nicely done.

And then there's Arnie, Willis and the legendary Chuck Norris. The former two have a bit more to do this time around, though they only have time to pick up a gun and shoot the bad guys like they were cannon fodder. But seeing them trade one liners with each other is a hoot. Norris, who is pushing 72, has a couple of cool entrances before gunning down some more bad guys. I won't lie, despite seeing him do so little here, he's still the man.

The film however makes very little time for Jet Li, who only appears in the opening action scene before he disappears. So if you're a fan of his, get ready to be disappointed. Couture and Crews lend some solid support just like last time, getting some of the more physical fights in the film. Liam Hemsworth is the new member, Billy The Kid. He's good in it, but there's nothing original about his role, which I've seen in countless action flicks in the past. Lastly Chinese actress Yu Nan joins the team as Maggie, who provides some of the quieter, more serious moments in the film, when she's not kicking ass of course.

Overall, this sequel is a step up from the last one, though it could use some polishing as far as dialogue is concerned. It's not perfect, but it sure is fun to watch all the way through. (4/5)

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