THE EXPENDABLES 2 (Simon West, 2012)
The difference between cliche action films and THE EXPENDABLES is that Stallone knows what he wants and he does that. Formulaic it may be, but both EXPENDABLES movies (and I heard there's a third one being planned already!) are guiltless visual pleasures. They are cliched, over-the-top, and predictable intentionally.
Cut out your pinkie if you did not see the film to primarily witness Stallone and Van Damme go at it, more or less. Yes, it was the film's most awaited moment. Poor Van Damme, his age is showing by the look of his face, but the guy can still do a mean roundhouse kick (or is that a stuntman? probably not.).
In terms of story, the first film would win uncontested. You have a corrupt dictator, a shady ex-CIA turned mercenary, Gary Daniels (who is replaced by Scott Adkins in Part 2 for a different character, but with the same characteristic and purpose), and the ever-compelling Mickey Rourke. Plus, a damsel in distress, a truckload of memorable one-liners, Jet Li being the object of ridicule, and Jason Statham busting open a couple of losers in the basketball court.
EXPENDABLES 2 is messy in terms of story development- the part about Van Damme being the supposed uber-villain in the story is underdeveloped; Nan Yu, the rose among the thorns who plays Maggie, out to recover an important item in a crashed plane could have been a more colorful character aside from eye candy; Randy Couture is reduced to a character who is again ridiculed about his ear, and the equivalent of a villain's henchman- a faceless, nameless part of the army; and the biggest letdown of the movie----Jet Li disappears all of a sudden by second half!
To go back to the thesis again, we all (or at least most of us) went and saw (or will be seeing) THE EXPENDABLES 2 to see bullets fly as if there's no tomorrow, blood gush out of every vein, artery, and orifice, and our heroes throw kicks and punches like their limbs are made of steel. An added plus is the joy of seeing Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger together in one frame, assaulting a dozen enemies in an airport, while "The" Chuck Norris provides cover from afar.
The plot just doesn't meet logic. Everything happens in a bliss, and the only time the story did not feel farfetched, or desperate, is when Stallone and co. are busy unleashing hell.In fairness to Simon West who did CON AIR and the first TOMB RAIDER movie, the action scenes are packed nicely, although the opening scene contained rehashed elements from the first movie (Statham manning the guns of the plane, for example).
This does not discourage me though about a possible third installment, but please please please hire Steven Seagal to be the bad guy, and better story development for Randy Couture and Terry Crews.
Don't fret. Go see THE EXPENDABLES 2. Enjoy it for what it is. Just don't expect anything original about the story. Ignore this fact and you're good to go.