Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Liam Hemsworth, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Nan Yu, Charisma Carpenter, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crew
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Runtime: 102 mins. Reviewed in Sep 2012
The two Expendable movies have a niche audience – macho, action-oriented fans, many of whom have developed a computer-games sensibility, kill or be killed. For those who want first hand testimonies from these fans, check out the blogging for the film on the Internet Movie Database (over 200 already). And, The Expendables 3 has been announced!
So, what is there to say except that it achieves what it sets out to do – the question is whether that was worthwhile in the first place. Early in the piece, Bruce Willis’ character refers to the Expendable squad as ‘psychotic muts’. He later joins them of course in their major skill – mowing down adversaries instantly, in great numbers, and with great satisfaction.
It is all pretty much over-the-top and pretty brutal – cancel that: ugly brutal.
As with the first film, there is a prologue to introduce the group, Stallone (looking his mid-60s age) as leader, Jason Statham as his best-friend lieutenant, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and, looking older and more haggard as well, Dolph Lundgren. The action is in Nepal – which doesn’t leave alive a great number of the militia which has kidnapped a Chinese businessman. And Jet Li is there for a minute or two – as is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who says he will be back and is. (Being Governor has not really honed the Terminator’s acting skills; he is still into clunky recitation of lines which works best when he is being deadpan funny).
The rest of the action is in an ugly remote area of Bulgaria where they are pursuing arch-villain (Jean-Claude Van Damme rather enjoying himself as nonchalently sinister) who is digging up some tons of buried plutonium from Cold War days. Oh, when they are in dire straits, who should turn up (with a fanfare from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme) but Chuck Norris (looking better than his age)!
There is an improbably gung-ho climax in a local airport.
Avoiding the accusation that this is all too macho, a female computer expert who is handy with guns as well (Nan Yu) becomes a key member of the group. One performer who comes off fairly well is Liam Hemsworth as a young warrior who brings a bit of emotion into the film (and into Stallone himself).
Watching the mayhem become repetitive, one’s mind wanders to the implausibility of so much of the plot. One way of understanding what is going on (how do they move from being stranded into flying in their plane? how do they get from here to there in their truck without explanation?) is that it is like a comic strip: key scenes sketched in and you have to use your imagination to supply the links.
Corny conclusion: if you are making a list of must-see movies, this one is more than expendable.
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