Thursday, 16 August 2012
The Expendables 2
I remember a couple of years ago reviewing the first Expendables film and, amazingly, thinking that not only was it a piss poor film but that it failed to deliver on what it originally promised. To hell with the likes of Statham, Li, Crews, Couture and Hemsworth, I want to see all the action stars of my youth blowing everything to kingdom come! I wouldn't have cared how bad it was, I just wanted to see Sly, Arnold, Bruce, Jean-Claude, Steven, Dolph, Weathers etc sharing the screen and bringing home the glory. Alas it was not to be and the first Expendables film was more than a let down. So comes the sequel and my eyes roll once more...
In what roughly resembles a plot, Barney Ross (Stallone) and co are sent into hostile territory to recover lost maps which lead to unused Soviet nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, in the dastardly European role once reserved for Jeremy Irons or Alan Rickman, Jean-Claude Van Damne and his mates find them first and what proceeds is a brutal and epic battle full of violence, swearing and some nicely timed puns and references to past glories.
Hats off to Stallone for still trying to compete with the Bournes, Drives, latter day Bonds of the 21st Century action genre. He and the majority of the cast in this film are part of a by-gone era of films which, even in the 80s, are rarely done well anymore - one of the very few modern exceptions being 2012's The Raid. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean they don't have the ability to raise a huge nostalgic smile when they're attempted by the men who made them famous.
With The Expendables 2, Stallone has seen the error of his ways and given the audience what they originally wanted. And that's much more of Arnie - it's like he was never away. More Bruce - yippie! Less Statham - even better! And even added the aforementioned Van Damne and, quite possibly the star of the whole film, one Mr Chuck Norris, playing an exact replica of the caricature of the cult Internet phenomenon he has become over the last decade. With rumours of Steven Segal, Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford for the third, there may be a place yet for this sorry saga of past action heroes who can't grow old gracefully.
The action is loud, gory and very satisfying. The dialouge was hilarious when it was trying to be serious, and serious when it was trying to be hilarious. Actually, truth be told, the best parts were when the likes of Arnie, Sly and Bruce etc were essentially ripping the piss out of each other's past films. There's more than a few nods to Rambo, Terminator, Die Hard, Rocky, Good Guys Wear Black amongst other. Yet unfortunately none to JCVD's Coors Light adverts. You could make a decent drinking game out of how many times Arnold makes reference to his iconic phrase, "I'll be back."
Absolutely awful and completely bloody essential. Though vastly superior to the original and surely a money-making hit with anyone over the age of 21, I can't even pretend to suggest The Expendables 2 is a good film. It's not even the best film I've seen this week never mind this year. However I'd be lying if I said people of a certain age won't find some sort of nostalgic delight out of seeing Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Norris, Van Damme etc blowing each other straight to hell...and the bargain bin of Tesco's DVD section.
The Expendables 2 is in cinemas everywhere now.