The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2 (2012)
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Featurettes

"The Expendables" had a simple formula that made the movie so enjoyable. Take all former A and B-list action stars of the 80s generation and toss them in a movie together, making it an all out fun-shoot-em-up-fest that pokes fun at itself. Now, with "The Expendables 2" Sylvester Stallone and his buddies try once more and while it is a fairly enjoyable romp, sadly the film does not capture the glory of the original.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his band of mercenaries called "The Expendables" have just finished a mission when an old "friend" pays him a visit. Church (Bruce Willis) wants to collect an old debt from Barney and send the Expendables on a new mission to retrieve the contents of a safe from a downed airplane. Simple enough, one would think, especially since Church provides a new team member also, the beautiful Maggie (Nan Yu) who is not only perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but is also an expert safecracker.

But as it always goes in these films, the mission turns out differently than expected and after retrieving the contents of the safe, the Expendables lose their priced possession to Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his gang. As it turns out he wants to use it to make a not-so-small fortune regardless of the peril he puts the entire world in.

Even from the synopsis you can already see that the film does not take itself too seriously. The story is highly formulaic and even the villain is named "Vilain." And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The action superstars poke fun at each other throughout the film – I particularly enjoyed the "I'll be back" exchange between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis – giving you little chuckles as he movie unfolds.

As mentioned above, the concept of the movie is not to deliver a serious action film but to simply poke fun at the genre and its superstars, and not unexpectedly, the cast reads like a line-up of who's who in action cinema. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and Dolph Lundgren bring up the 80s front, while they are supported by more recent actions stars like Jet Li and Jason Statham. Despite the great line-up, I felt that the film missed a huge opportunity in the casting, however. The story introduced an Asian character with Maggie, and I think genre fans would have truly appreciated it if this part would not have been filled by a young no-name. It would have been the perfect part for someone like Maggie Cheung or Michelle Yeoh, action superstars from the same cadre as Stallone and Schwarzenegger who could equally have been used to poke fun at their on-screen personae at the time.

Overall, "The Expendables 2" is fun to watch if you have the right mindset. Don't question motives, logic and don't even try to ind a plot. There really is none of that in the film. Vilain's handful of goons suddenly balloon to an army of hundreds within a few seconds, there are tens of thousands of rounds of ammo being fired, but the bad guys never hit anyone, the good guys keep shooting up things even with civilians around… you get the idea. I could accept all of that, but the one thing I found truly annoying is the amount of blood that splatters the screen. It makes the game look like a video game, really. Every bullet wound the bad guys receive explodes in a shower of blood – oftentimes forward, no less, which is utterly unrealistic – and the film goes to such gratuitous lengths to show blood that you often get the impression people are nothing but blood-soaked sponges that are wrought out. Movies for the video game generation, who grew up with military first-person shooters, I suppose. Not my bag, really.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment presents the film in a clean 1080p high def transfer on this release, complete with a DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio track. No need to discuss there technical merits of this release because you know what to expect, and Lionsgate delivers. Big bangs for your buck form beginning to finish.

As extras, the release also contains the DVD version, a Digital Copy and an Ultraviolet version. A Commentary track by director Simon West is also included, as well as a number of featurettes covering various aspects of the production and the conception of the film. The disc is rounded out by a Gag Reel and some deleted scenes.

"The Expendables 2" is not quite as cool as the original film, but it still has a certain guilty pleasure fun factor. Turn off your brains, put on your best first-person-shooter hat and grab some popcorn, and you will enjoy this mindless romp.