The Expendable 2 opened in first place its opening weekend, to the tune of $28.5 million. It can’t be hard to put Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger into one flick and not have a good opening weekend, so in that sense no one should be impressed with the haul. Regardless, the film still needs to be reviewed. Many of those who follow this blog probably figure that I’ll have nothing bad to say about the movie, given that I’ve claimed Stallone knows the meaning of life. Not true. Expendables 2 is a solid summer popcorn movie, but I still plan on covering the good, the bad and the ugly.
First things first. Or should I say last? If you’ve ever wanted to see Stallone throw down against Jean-Claude Van Damme, consider your wish granted. In his mid-sixties, Sly is as ripped as ever. JCVD brings some serious triceps to the game, and the roundhouse kicks are as swift and powerful as ever. Men will watch The Expendables 2 for the next few decades for the climatic battle alone. Van Damme’s “Vilain” is so cheesy that he wears sunglasses in a mineshaft, but it doesn’t matter because all the audience cares about is a.) He represents pure evil and b.) He’s going to meet his maker in a death match with Stallone.
Watching The Expendables 2 is sort of like looking into a soul made of pure testosterone. There are explosions galore, muscles, fighting, guns, and creatively-staged deaths of evil men that give the audience license to smile and say, “Well, the bastards kind of deserved it.” There’s a scene that involves Vilain’s henchmen, and dare I say it — what happens to the last man standing may be worth the price of admission alone.
Where Stallone’s sequel goes wrong is with the overuse of cheesy one liners. I expect those in an 80’s throwback movie, but there are only so many times I can hear Schwarzenegger say “I’ll be back” or make some painful reference to the Terminator flicks before it becomes annoying. In some sense I wish they would have done away with them all together. The wry smiles the men share when they’re on screen together tells the audience everything they need to know. We’re already in on the joke … and at times the hammy dialogue distracts from an action movie that can stand out its own.
And finally — the ugly. Someone needs to punch Simon West in the kidneys for the blink-and-you-missed it shot of Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger charging forward, guns blazing. How great would it have been to have a few classic stills of the three of them — running towards the camera in an extended shot — while emptying their magazines? Instead, we get a bunch of quick cuts, usually with a back turned away from the camera. Sometimes two of them have a moment together (and there is one with Arnold and Chuck Norris that is fabulous), but in general Mr. West dropped the ball when it came to getting three of the world’s best action heroes of all time into a few frames worthy of posters and t-shirts and memes for time eternal.
With that said, I think The Expendables 2 has enough juice in it for a third (and final) installment. Now get out there, do your manly duty, and see Expendables 2. And if you’re wondering why I didn’t cover things like, say, the “plot” … then you obviously haven’t see the original. I’m in a decent mood, so I’ll make it easy for you: Good guys need to kill bad guys.
Got it? Good. Now go see it, because Stallone and Co. aren’t getting any younger.