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The Expendables 2 (2012)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Nan Yu, Scott Adkins

Written By: Richard Wenk (also story), Sylvester Stallone, Ken Kaufman (story), David Agosto (story)

Directed By: Simon West

The Short Version

Everything the first film promised to be, this one is.

As before, look at that cast list.  I said look at it!

The Expendables 2 is the kick ass movie event of 2012.

Lots of stuff goes “boom,” and the people involved have fun making it happen.

Catch it on the big screen now and own it for the small screen later.  This flick’s a party.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Even the good stuff ain’t getting’ past these boys in one piece!

Pairs Well With...


Swedish vodka for Dolph, Belgian beer for Van Damme, American whiskey for Sly, Seagram’s wine cooler for Willis (high five if you know why), and a whole lot more where all of that came from for everyone else!

“Rest in pieces!”


This, ladies and gentlemen, is the high octane action party you’ve all been waiting for since 1988.  Its predecessor promised much and delivered most of it, but The Expendables 2 goes the full distance and then some.  It’s tight.  It’s rockin’.  It’s boomin’.  It’s cool enough to know when to have fun with itself.

It is, dare I say it, a true glimpse back at the Golden Age of Action Movies, starring the original cast members, and friends.

As Mr. McClane once said: “Welcome to the party, pal!”

After tearing through some bad guys in Nepal before the title screen rolls, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone, Cobra) and the boys head back home to max and relax at the local bar and reflect on the good things in life.  Someone, though, doesn’t intend to let them have a vacation, and that someone is their old CIA buddy Mr. Church (Bruce Willis, Pulp Fiction).  Figuring that he’s still owed after the chaos that was the first movie’s action, he makes Ross and company an offer they can’t refuse: take one more job for him, or take up accommodations in a Guantanamo Bay cell block.  Needless to say, they take the job.  Things go south in hurry thanks to a sadistic creep named Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Universal Soldier), but Ross and company don’t give up easily.  Instead, they give themselves a new assignment: “Track him. Find him. Kill him.”

Any questions?  Didn’t think so…

I’ll make this easy for you: if you’re only going to see one action flick in 2012, you need to see The Expendables 2.  It kicks extreme ass.  It’ll help if you’ve seen the original first, but it’s not strictly necessary.  Just see the damn movie.  End of story. 

You want more detail?  Fine.  The Expendables 2 is one giant highlight reel set to a script.  Which highlight will be your favorite?

One of the Most Intense Opening Sequences Ever.  Forget the slow lead-in; The Expendables 2 puts the pedal to the metal and balls to the walls from the word “go.”  There’s more action in this pre-title sequence than one finds in many full length features… and their sequels.  Combined.  Aw, yeah.  Stuff goes “boom.”

An Awesome Sense of Humor.  One of the shortcomings of the original film was that it took itself too seriously; this time, everyone’s in a major comfort zone, and the script does a great job of keeping the story tight while the dialogue stays loose.  The one-liners and smartass comments that gave action fans something to laugh at back in the 80s and 90s find their legs again, and the cast is very obviously having a lot of fun with it all.  (So’s the design crew, by the way; check out the art on the airplane and the stenciled titles on the assault vehicles during the opening sequence.)

Motorcycle Meets Helicopter.  When guided missiles just won’t do.

Frying Pan Fu.  Jet Li delivers some of his signature martial arts magic, and then kicks it up a notch, Emeril style.  Bam!

Sly Stallone.  There’s grey in his hair, but The Man is still The Man.  He also carries the heaviest actor’s burden in this flick, and as usual, he’s more up to the challenge than most people like to give him credit for.  He walks the fine line of being more relaxed with his character than he was in the first film while at the same time playing that character in even more of a world-weary state.  Don’t think that’s possible?  Just watch Sly work and see how it’s done.

Dolph.  Out of all the characters returning from the first go-round, Gunnar has mellowed the most.  Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li have a great rapport during their scenes together, and on his own, Dolph obviously has a great time mixing his own real life biography with that of his fictional character.  (Guess which former Fulbright scholar really has a Master’s degree?)  It’s also fun to watch Gunnar crash and burn at the game o’ love, and hey – way to rock the Darth Vader t shirt, Dolph!  Nice!

The Governator is Back.  Arnold Schwarzenegger may have only had a few days to spend on the set, but he made sure they counted.  His presence is felt here in a major way, and not just because he has the best collection of one-liners to fall back on, either.  (Hell, he even adds a new one to the list.)  Speaking of…

Trading One-Liners.  This scene is way too good to spoil, but I’ll tell you that I and most of the theatre audience I watched The Expendables 2 with laughed out loud for it.  Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.  That’s all I’m gonna say.  And, oh yes-

The Scene We’ve Been Waiting For Since 1988.  Yeah, they got together for a fun dialogue exchange last time around, but here, finally, Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis all step out together in one scene, guns blazing.  Aw. Hell. YEAH!

Rest in Pieces.  In a phrase: overkill can be awesome.

Jean-Claude Van Damme… As You’ve Never Seen Him Before.  Once upon a time, Jean-Claude Van Damme was one of action’s most reliable good guys, known just as much for his affable grin as he was for his spinning kicks.  This time, though, he’s the bad guy, and what a damn convincing bad guy he is.  Van Damme’s performance is intense, ice cold, and calculatedly mean; in other words, everything you could want from an action villain, especially since he can also still fight.  His first spinning kick will have your jaw on the floor, and as for the rest… you’ve just got it see it for yourself.  ‘Nuf said.

Chuck Norris.  I admit it, I’ve never been a Chuck Norris fan, but it’s impossible to deny his place in this pantheon, and yeah, I laughed at the clever way the script plays with his internet legend.  I think I’d have saved the “Good, Bad, and the Ugly” music cue for whenever they finally convince Clint Eastwood to show up, but still: there is fun to be had here, folks, and Chuck’s time on the screen is perfectly portioned so that he gets more than a glorified cameo but doesn’t get the chance to overtake the action.  And while we’re on the subject of Mr. Norris…

The Expendables 2 is Rated “R” and Should Be.  It was long rumored that Chuck Norris was trying to use his influence to convince Sly Stallone and company to keep the movie down to a PG-13.  Fan response was pretty clear: that was not going to be an acceptable option, and fortunately, the powers that be listened.  The Expendables 2 definitely earns its “R” rating, and it does so with more than just a few extra splashes of CGI-enhanced blood.  The old school spirit of blood and boom is alive and well here, and if you want your action hard, you’re not going to be disappointed.

The Final Duel.  I don’t care how much of it happens in shadow.  The ending doesn’t, nor does its coda.  Hot. Damn.

Is that everything?  Of course not, but I’ve got to leave you some surprises, don’t I?  When all is said done, The Expendables 2 is easily the most satisfying action flick of 2012, and indeed, it makes a damn good case for being one of the most satisfying ever.  If you’re looking for lowlights instead of highlights, sorry; any problems I had with The Expendables 2 are so minor that I’ve forgotten them already. 

Bottom line, what you waiting for?  Go see The Expendables 2, now! Get to the choppa!

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, August, 2012

More From The Bar! | The Expendables | Machete | Rambo (2008) |

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