I was a child of the 80s and in particular, a child of 80s action movies. I was spoon fed Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Seagal and the glorious filmography of Chuck Norris. Even met Chuck once, great guy. So the prospect of Stallone getting many of these testosterone adverts in one place when he made the original Expendables was a dream come true. The movie wasn’t all my 15 year old mind had conjured up, but it was fun to be sure. After securing big box office numbers, the veterans came back for Expendables 2, this time with Con Air’s Simon West behind the camera.
A plane has crashed in the Soviet Union and CIA man Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) wants what’s in it. Church contacts Barney Ross (Stallone) and enlists the help of The Expendables for the job. The mysterious cargo is taken by a psychotic madman named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) before Barney and his team get to it. Now Barney, with the help of partners Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) and Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and a little help along the way by former competition Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris), must stop the madman before he gets his hands on some world altering weapons.
The Expendables films must be taken for what they are to ensure enjoyment. If anyone is going into an Expendables film looking for anything more than action, humor and a reverence for the action packed days of the 80s, they will be disappointed. I found part 2 to be even more enjoyable than the first film for a few reasons. Everyone seems more relaxed and to be having a little more fun this time around. It’s almost like watching a class reunion of action stars as they relive their glory days. But not in a bad way. Stallone and Statham continue to have excellent chemistry with some great banter between them. Likewise for Willis and Schwarzenegger who seem to love riffing off each other’s own stereotypes. Chuck Norris is a fan favorite addition to this film and is treated with an almost mythical presence everytime he appears. He is like the wise guru to everyone else and it works to hilarious effect. It made me long for someone to give Chuck his own big screen shot again; it would be cool to see him back in full action mode. The other great highlight here is the addition of Van Damme as the bad guy. He is appropriately creepy and sadistic and plays a villain with great relish, filmmakers take note and cast him as more baddies in the future please. The films do have a lack of creativity in its action scenes though I find. Recent action films like the Bourne films, Haywire, or even Statham’s own Transporter films have unique action scenes that are memorable after the credits have rolled, and I find the Expendables films do not quite have that, their scenes tend to be more of the stand and shoot variety. Which is not to say they are not enjoyable, they are. I would just like to see more original sets ups for the set pieces. Hopefully Expendables 3 will remedy this and make a truly outstanding entry into the series. In the meantime, we have 2 extremely fun flicks with a bunch of action icons we can’t help but love.
Expendables 2 on Blu-ray comes to us courtesy of Alliance and as with the first film, the presentation is outstanding. Every bit of flying rubble is in fine detail, clarity and detail is top notch and the soundtrack is rocking and booming, sure to shake the plates in the kitchen cupboards. A solid disc all around, Expendables 2 is a must own for action junkies.