- Release Date: 24/08/2012
- Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet LI, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Nan Yu, Bruce Willis, Scott Adkins, Liam Hemsworth
- Director: Simon West
The first installment of The Expendables had me rooting for the spectacular action and the charisma of Stallone and Statham. I was just bowled over by the sheer physicality of the content and the intensity and ferocity with which the action came to life. The ensemble cast seemed to be having a good time playing their parts and that very fact made the movie even more enjoyable and wacky. The comedy and the action went hand in hand and even though the movie was outrageously silly, I was not complaining. Sylvester Stallone helmed the director’s chair and he knew exactly what the audience wanted and he gave them plenty of that. With Expendables 2, Stallone steps down from directorial duties and hands over the baton to Simon West. The ensemble cast sees the addition of a few new well-known faces and the story is much darker. The million-dollar question to be asked was whether Expendables 2 was as good as the first installment?
The Expendables 2 starts smack in the middle of the action with our team of mercenaries comprising of Barney Ross (Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Ying Yang (Jet Li), Billy “The Kid” (Liam Hemsworth), Hale Caesar(Terry Crews), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture) attacking a Nepali province to extract a trapped mercenary Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a Chinese businessman held for ransom. While Ying Yang parts his way with the rest of the team with the businessman, the rest of the crew arrives back home only to be sent back on a relatively easy mission by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis). The mission is to retrieve an artifact from a crashed plane. The crew successfully achieves its objective only to be brutally stopped by a guy known only as Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his band of thugs. Vilain takes away the artifact but not before he has kicked in a knife into Billy the Kid’s heart. The Expendables are enraged and now the mission becomes more of a personal vendetta than a usual government hush-hush project.
Expendables 2 has a better storyline than the first one. The personal score added, gives the screenplay more meat and the characters enough reasons to vie for each other’ s blood. As was the case with the first installment, The story moves from one set piece to another but here not everything is as engrossing as it should have been for a film like this to work. The initial action sequences are breathtaking and wonderfully staged. However, as the plot thickens, the action doesn’t get any better than what we had witnessed previously. There are prolonged scenes of brotherhood and unnecessary humor which could have been easily done away with and frankly speaking bring the proceedings to a screeching halt. Chuck Norris is introduced in the second half and his entry will generate some serious hurray from the audience. However, his character is given negligible screen time and almost no reason at all to stick around. Ditto can be said about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Trench. Jason Statham and Stallone form a formidable pair and the movie’s likeability is primarily dependent on the charm of these two and they don’t let us down. I sorely missed Jet Li whose act is cut short for no rhyme or reason here.
Liam Hemsworth is one of the worst aspects of the film. His act is so hollow and laughably bad that it becomes difficult to not laugh out loud at his bit. The tragedy is that his character is meant to be the catalyst that makes the Expendables go all out after vilain. His performance in the scene where he is killed by Vilain is so pathetic and caricaturish that I couldn’t hold back my laughter. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Hemsworth’s sorry act spoils a lot of the seriousness that this film needed to work better.
Coming back to the action, there is plenty to please the testosterone-charged junkies. However, the action clearly lacks the punch and the raw physicality of the first installment and gets progressively worse as we proceed. Statham’s martial arts skills are underused and the final standoff between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Stallone was not worth the wait. Simon West could neither tap into the huge resources that he had at his disposal neither could he present a pretty picture that would make something out of the skills of the ensemble cast put together. The background score is hardly inspiring. The Expendables 2 was a huge disappointment for me. It is so not because of my expectations but because of the fact that it could have been so much more.