Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lungdren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Nan Yu, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Charisma Carpenter, and more...
Directed by: Simon West Screenplay by: Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone Story by: Ken Kaufman, David Agosto, and Richard Wenk Based on the characters by: David Callaham Cinematography by: Shelly Johnson Original Music by: Brian Tyler
Premise: When a supposedly easy mission turns bad and takes the life of one of their own, the Expendables won't rest until they've gotten revenge.
1) Acting - Thumbs Up: There wasn't much for most of the actors to act to, but what there was was well done. Stallone did a great job. Van Damme was an awesomely nasty bad guy. It was definitely fun watching them all prancing about with guns blazing.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Great explosions! Tons of weapons fire during different parts of the film and they actually would run out of bullets, trying for a feeling of authenticity. It even had daring airplane lift offs and landings. Plenty of special effects entertainment for all.
3) Plot/Story - Neutral: The beginning of the film with the extraction/rescue plan was probably the best part of the whole movie. It truly showed the extent of Expendables' skills. Then the story unfortunately turned into an unimaginative romp with too many winks to the audience with regards to in-jokes and other slipped in bits. Some were quite funny, but others fell flat. While seeing Chuck Norris was great, he got thrown in as a "Deus Ex Machina" at least once in the film. Some of the others were also treated this way.
I was pretty miffed at the convenient way they got Jet Li's character to leave after the intro mission was over to make room for the character of Maggie. Though his 'fry pan' martial arts was totally enjoyable, it wasn't enough to make up for the big gap caused in the group with the departure of his character. It was almost as if the writers were afraid of having two characters doing martial arts. Which is silly as there can never be enough martial arts in an action film.
The jokes, like I said, were plentiful. Some were subtle, others were not. "Total Recall", "Die Hard", and even those online jokes about Chuck Norris made an appearance. I believe even the tattoo Van Damme wore as part if his 'bad guy' persona was an in-joke to one of his films.
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Great stunts. Kudos to the stuntmen standing in for our favorite older action heroes, especially during the final battle sequence. The only sequence with any issues was during the forced plane landing. The area of danger with Magggie was done in super shaky cam. Rather than add to the danger, it made the sequence incredibly difficult to see, making it lose any impact on the viewer of the possible loss of the new teammate.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up: Lots of foreign locations and interesting places were in the film. I especially enjoyed the cool structure of the mountain mines in Russia.
Conclusion: "Expendables 2" delivers on a ton of action, explosions, and gun play, but the plot left a lot to be desired. I didn't personally feel it came close to the original in overall satisfaction. But it definitely was awesome seeing all those big action stars on the big screen again.
Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Seeing for Matinee)