Friday, 17 August 2012
REVIEW: THE EXPENDABLES 2
103 Minutes. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis & Arnold Schwarzenegger. Director: Simon West. Screenplay: Richard Wenk & Sylvester Stallone
When Sylvester Stallone brought every great action hard-man of the nighties for the surprise, dumb fun hit 'The Expendables' two years back he was only really missing Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris...well not anymore. Now only a Steven Segal and his ponytail and the great Mickey Rourke (who apparently isn't here due to a money issue which seems strange when you look at his and Stallone's heartfelt history) are absent from the mix. Let's do a quick headcount; of course there's Chuck and Van Damme kicking it and joining 'The Expendables 2' as well as the usual suspects of Sly Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Randy Couture and...erm Terry Crews (who may not have been a famous action hero of the past...but now is, along with being damn funny like those 'Old Spice' commercials to boot (don't sniff at this 'Everybody Hates Chris' star, everybody loves him)).
If that wasn't enough there's some fresh, fancy new recruits in Chinese star Yu Nan and Liam Hemsworth who shows he's more than 'Thor's' little brother with a strong and soulful performance giving some heart and brains to this black and brawn piece. Also the big draw is getting more out of co-stars Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger than the classic, church cameo from the first film. With more cliches and puns which surprisingly work with more glee than groans Arnie is back now he's no longer running for president terminating everything in sight. As is Bruce making everything die harder without the string vest, in this ensemble he looks like the young one.
As a matter of fact even though he wrinkles are writing pensions their muscles don't want to cheque these guys have still got it. More gigantic than geriatric this film packs as many punches as bullets (and believe me 'The Matrix' and 'Heat's' clips are jealous). Van Damme can still kick it as high as he used to and Statham, Li and others are obviously still at the top of their hand to hand game. Stallone can still bruise and bout like Rocky too with Rambo endurance, while Dolph Lundgren still has that universal appeal soldiering up with the boys.
The only thing missing (apart from a plot) is a Chuck Norris roundhouse disappointingly but its not like the guy can still kick threw a car windshield. Besides are you going to tell Chuck Norris there's a problem with that? The roundhouse does not control Chuck Norris, he controls it and while shooting everything in sight he has that kind of stare that could just kill you anyway...the bullets are just a formality. Stallone has wrote another hit showing there's still some life in him and his old dogs yet. Sure there's not much of a story compared to the action but what else do you want from an action flick?
You want amazing, airport artillery scenes that are scheduled here for take-off. Plus there's more heart and soul to this than you would expect, just like the moving Mickey monologue from the first film (come on Rourke where are ya?). Stallone knows how to bring everything together in the perfect homage to the golden era of the nighties. You can't beat a classic. These guys may be old and heading for that hill that Rambo walked up for the entire closing credits of the last movie but they are far from expendable. Now why not leave your brain at the door this weekend and have some dumb brawn fun? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Illustration By Alan Fletcher.