The Expendables was the definition of “damp squib”, underwhelming and not even respectful of the old action movies. However the sequel… as surprising as it sounds… was actually pretty fun!
The sequel acts well as a standalone feature since I couldn’t remember anything of the first film. Sly Stallone’s mercenary team is seen rescuing a Chinese delegate and… Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character… in an exciting vehicular attack on an occupied city. However their next mission proves to be even more challenging.
It feels more like a proper testimony to the classic action movies; each actor gets a signature fight or moment, reminiscing glory days and the action is far more eye-catching and creative this time around. The bonus comes from having Van Damme as the villain, while he may not do very much, at least he has some charisma and memorable moments.
I was also impressed that the writing was actually better, in that the comedy was actually fun and not devastatingly dull. It feels like they are enjoying themselves and not wallowing in “we’re too old for this” dialogue.
Drawbacks. Well, I was sad to see Jet Li dropping out so early on (he was easily the best part of the first film) and Bruce Willis and Schwarzenegger seem to have limited screen time again so the film can focus on the original team. Slightly disappointing, but the finale has some great moments with those two: “My shoe’s bigger than this car!”
The storyline is paper thin and transparent, the film only lasts an hour and a half (with some rather dodgy editing) but this isn’t anything unexpected!
It is big and very dumb, but at least memorable. It is a constant gun battle, leaping from one set piece to the next, rarely catching a breath. It is a testimony, like Grindhouse and Black Dynamite, it is entertainment.