Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Written by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone
Directed by Simon West
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Jean-Claude Van Damme

Barney Ross: Rest in pieces!

The very notion of THE EXPENDABLES is of very little interest to me. Sure, I watched muscle-led action bloodbaths in my youth (Way to go, Mom!) but very few of those examples (DIE HARD and TERMINATOR 2 come to mind) have actually stuck with me through the years. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by my enjoyment of the first entry in what has now apparently become a franchise. (Nicolas Cage has just signed on for the third installment.) Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone himself, THE EXPENDABLES was both a send-up and an homage to the 80’s action flick. And while the sequel does throw a few more heavyweights into the ring, it does so with very little gusto whatsoever.

There are plenty of explosions, shots fired and blood splatters in THE EXPENDABLES 2, so its wonder to me why it felt so tired most of the time. This could be because Stallone relegated his directing duties to Simon West, who has worked with Jason Statham before (THE MECHANIC) and whose first film was a major action hit, CON AIR. West takes us around the world in THE EXPENDABLES 2, from Nepal to Paris, but yet somehow, each location looks just as drab and uninspired as the last. Even Stallone shows that he doesn’t quite trust the concept when he adds a young man (Liam Hemsworth) and (gasp!) a woman (Nan Yu) to his mixed bag of mercenaries. Nothing against women or younger men but this is such blatant pandering that it’s hard to take any of it very seriously. I understand that films like these are not meant to be taken seriously, but under Stallone’s direction the first time out, you could tell at least he was taking it seriously. It felt like he was trying to prove that he could still do it and he did just that. Now, they’re coasting.

The guns come out blasting from the very start and I had to avert my eyes on a number of occasions because the gore on screen was turning my stomach. In fact, the action is often relentless. And so I’m certain that plenty of action fans will get what they are hoping for in THE EXPENDABLES 2. Personally, when I’m watching two men fight near a helicopter, all I can do is wait for one of them to be splattered against the blades. And I don’t know about you, but I can only watch indiscriminate, ethnically ambiguous foot soldiers drop one after another while missing every single shot they take, for so long before I lose interest. I prefer my action to be original and unexpected, especially when its being doled out by the guys who practically invented the genre. Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his return to the screen and repeats most of his famous one-liners though, so that makes it worth it, right?

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dolph Lundgren for the release of THE EXPENDABLES couple of years ago. Click here to check it out.

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