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Movie Review: The Expendables 2

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That’s what I’m talking about! The Expendables 2 is summer entertainment at its best – funny, fast, furious, and far away from reality. This movie keeps the audience in its firm grip from the first shots to the last of its you-won’t-believe-it’s-over 102 minutes.

The cast is to die for, the jokes are unrelenting and the stunts are just what the doctor ordered (testosterone). The humor will having you cracking up (‘Bad Attitude’ is written on the side of a war vehicle and a phallic wall smasher is called ‘Knock Knock’), but there are also a number of serious moments for good balance. The sheer number of women smiling and cheering at the screen in a packed premiere made me happy: us girls love a treadmill movie when we see one.

Simon West is director this time, leaving Stallone to relax and have fun. Barney Ross (Stallone) and his crew of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) are saving a Chinese billionaire from Nepal, whom Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) failed to snitch out, getting trapped himself.

After the success of the operation, Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) makes Barney go on another mission and retrieve a very valuable safe trapped in the woods of Albania. Maggie (Yu Nan) has to go with them because she is good with safes, which changes the chemistry of the team. She listens to the heartbreaking stories of the Afghanistan veteran Billy (Liam Hemsworth, so handsome) and genuine when she tries to understand Barney, and what makes him avoid a real human connection. The mission gets screwed, of course, thanks to the abominable Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and the Expendables have to revenge the death of a fellow soldier doing what they do best – kicking ass non-stop.

The Expendables 2 was filmed in Bulgaria primarily, in beautiful and dilapidated locations, including the very beautiful Devetashka Cave. The references to the Cold War and the Eastern European settings will hit home to a lot of people. The villages devastated by criminal cartels and the people suffering from the destruction give this film a humanity retouch, which makes the smashing, bashing, bombing and bullet biting much more enjoyable, and well justified.

The original movie made $274 million in the box office. Judging by the way this installment was received (by an ‘Eastern European’ Minsk audience, cheering, clapping and laughing their heads off – some of the metafictional jokes here are pure gold) the box office for The Expendables 2 may be just as impressive.

RIP to Kun Liu, a stuntman who died on October 27, 2011 on set of the movie during a staged explosion. A lot of people will talk about CGI but the physical effort put into this action marvel is astounding, and viewers will definitely acknowledge that. The stars of the movie, wrinkles, eye bags and all, are not done making audiences around the world go ‘Wow’ – and it’s such a joy to see them on the big screen again.

Verdict: Hats off to the whole team of The Expendables 2. What a wonderful way to put a bold exclamation mark at the end of movie summer 2012 (and kick pretentious stuff like Cosmopolis out of the competition).

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About Sviatlana Piatakova

  • i am looking forward to it after a few beers with friends

  • i hope you will like it as much as me (as well as the beer and the friends)

  • Joey Williams

    I’m still sceptical Sviatlana. I’ve read a lot of other reviews that have absolutely slated it…I guess the only way to find out is actually go and watch it!

  • Well, it’s self-referential zero calorie fun, and every minute of the movie everyone in the movie knows it’s a dumb silly movie. If you don’t like the prospect of that, Joey, maybe it’s not your kind of fun ))

  • Peter

    I defy anyone but the most cynical and joyless people to not at least raise a few smiles while watching this film. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should you

  • I agree, Peter. It’s all about shameless fun and the veterans look so cool together (will be sad to see them go and give in to the onslaught of screen zombie/vampire fighters).

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Even my wife – the one who can’t stand watching my teenaged son and myself roughhouse, who has no desire to watch any guy movies at all – is eager to see this movie. Besides, Ah-nold is BACK, and just where he should be! He’s the perfect antidote for recovering from watching the chick-flicks I have to watch with my wife (which are good movies, but I can’t stand losing so many macho points for crying in the theater).

    The only downside is that when we’re walking out of the theater, my son and I will be pushing, shoving, and instigating faux fights with each other, and she’s going to get mad at both of us, and it will be a very quiet ride home…

    …but the whole time my son and I will be struggling to keep from grinning like bandits.

  • This is too funny, Glenn. Maybe you could go somewhere deserted and punch each other. I think movies like The Expendables 2 are actually good for letting off steam )))

  • Good review. I really liked this movie, it was a lot of fun. @Joey – overall the reviews have been positive – Rotten Tomatoes has it rated fresh so far.

  • Thanks, Sherry, for the compliment.

  • The cinematographer, Shelly Johnson, is a MAN.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Okay, saw the movie, and my wife, myself, and my son all loved it. The writing and editing both left much to be desired…but that mattered not one whit. All that really mattered were all the old action stars getting together, and they did not disappoint!

    But I did have a big surprise – the song the men sung together at the end was from a poem called The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race. The only reason I know this is because my wife – born and raised in Manila, Philippines – began singing it along with them. It turns out she’d learned the very same poem in elementary school there!

    And yes, her memory – like that of all wives (to the eternal discomfort of their husbands) – is that phenomenal.

  • Thanks, James, for pointing out that Shelly Johnson is indeed a man. that was wishful thinking on my part.

  • Glenn, you are a lucky man! I can’t remember what I wrote yesterday, let alone a poem from elementary school.