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).