Sylvester Stallone has once again assembled a crack team of ageing action icons for this second outing of The Expendables. This time Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris are the big names joining Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li (for a minute), Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and others for another round of fighting. After being forced on a compromised new mission by Mr Church (Willis), Barney (Stallone) and his team lose one of their men, so resolve to seek vengeance against the villainous Jean Vilain (Van Damme).
As with the previous iteration, the plot is really just there to contrive different situations where all the superstars can spend time together, a feat it accomplishes with a staggering lack of subtlety. Not that this is a surprise and, in all honesty, the times when they are all bashed together need to be cherished. Chuck Norris’ introduction is a knowing and hilarious highlight, but the tone adopted for his far too brief section – which is also effectively utilised to accommodate Schwarzenegger and Willis – should have been more widespread. Instead, Stallone and director Simon West take matters far too seriously.
A movie featuring almost every action-god on the planet shouldn’t waste time getting Stallone to deliver pants speeches about the cruelty of death. At the most, you want to see Norris talk more about cobras, but other than that speaking ought to be kept to a minimum. You can’t to go for sincerity and then make Arnie compare a Smart Car to his shoe size.
Also disappointing is the lack of imagination. Whenever a group are put together in this way it’s vital that believable obstacles are presented. Avengers Assemble (2012) struggled with this same issue in its final third and, let’s face it, these guys are pretty much superheroes too – beating Schwarzengger, Willis and Norris is going to take more than a few machine guns. But greater firepower isn’t forthcoming and viewers will have to settle for a few choice moments. Sadly, this is a theme that, due to misjudgements in tone, reverberates across the whole film.
Joshua has awarded The Expendables 2 two Torches of Truth .