Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables 2 (2012)

The Expanding Expendables

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is approached by CIA agent Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to head into Russia to retrieve something on a plane which went down and Church wants one of his own agents, Maggie Chan (Yu Nan), to accompany Ross and his Expendables. But there mission doesn't go as planned and when one of his team is taken hostage by the evil Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) Ross has to hand over the package in return for his safety except Vilain kills the hostage anyway. There is no way Ross will settle for the murder of one of his men and so the team set about tracking down Vilain and getting justice, the Expendable way.

I liked the first "The Expendables" but I feel maybe my fondness for it was that I grew up on 80s action and had become despondent with modern action movies which owed more to CGI than real action and so when it showed up it seemed so much more impressive than it was. In hindsight and having watched "The Expendables" a few more times since it wasn't as good as I first thought although still a lot better than most modern action movies. Fortunately when it comes to "The Expendables 2" things are better; simpler story, bigger action and more self depreciating humour and that it is.

Jean-Claude Van Damme in The Expendables 2 (2012)

As such "The Expendables 2" doesn't really need much reviewing because it is basic action movie stuff. When one of Ross's team is killed, and you can guess which one early on because it is the one you question as to why he is in the movie, we get a simple revenge storyline. Early on we get some enjoyable self depreciating humour with Terminator references and again early on we get more explosive action, bigger than the first movie. Basically it is everything you expect from a movie which is trying to bring back that feel of 80s action.

But what for me makes "The Expendables 2" and the movies as a franchise is the star power who sign up to appear and whilst we have the addition of Chuck Norris to the mix this time around it is Jean-Claude Van Damme who steals the show with an entertaining and surprisingly charismatic performance as a bad guy. But what we get more of this time is the interplay between these action stars with Schwarzenegger doing more this time around which was one thing which was missing from the first movie.

What this all boils down to is that "The Expendables 2" is an improvement on the first movie because it simplifies things, increases the action as well as the interplay between actors. And in truth "The Expendables 2" puts in to context what level "The Expendables" was at.