(out of 5)
The wonderful multipack of eighties action stars that made up The Expendables was too irrepressibly fun a concept to be denied a sequel, and their return is a most welcome sight. After getting old pal Arnold Schwarzenegger out of trouble and saving a kidnapped billionaire from a lot of bad guys, sleepy-eyed Sylvester Stallone and company are approached by pompous Bruce Willis and given a quest that will get them out of trouble with the law: Willis is assigning a Chinese operative (Nan Yu) to help them retrieve a mysterious object that was lost in a plane crash and that a lot of Russian bad guys are after too. When the operation goes sour and the killing of a hostage gets Stallone in the feels, it inspires him to seek revenge against the bad guy (Jean-Claude Van Damme) responsible for all the mayhem. Every turn of the plot is a thinly veiled excuse to have the good guys mow down the bad guys in ever more efficient ways, while the villains are, as usual, cursed with the affliction of Storm Trooper aim. The parade of familiar faces, which also includes Chuck Norris and young newcomer Liam Hemsworth, is a great pleasure, but it’s the film’s healthy awareness of its own silliness that is its greatest asset. If only it took better advantage of the chemistry between a number of its stars (Stallone and Jason Statham, an actor who masters the art of bromance in most of the films he appears in, are particularly fun together) it could be something so much more satisfying than just a shallow indulgence in ballistic noise. Like the first film, the collecting of a number of stars who have already proven how easily they can carry their own films should result in something so much juicier than what happens here.
Directed by Simon West
Cinematography by Shelly Johnson
Music by Brian Tyler
Production Design by Paul Cross
Costume Design by Lizz Wolf
Film Editing by Todd E. Miller