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Thursday 16 August, 2012 

The Expendables 2

Dir. Simon West, USA, Run time: 102mins

Review by Dan Collacott

The ageing A-Team are back and this time Stallone has stepped aside to allow Simon West (Con AIr) into the director’s chair. 

The band of mercenaries return to settle a debt owed to shadowy agency figure Mr. Church (Willis) from the first film. All the gang are back, although Mickey Rourke only has a minor role and Jet-Li is ‘Jet’tisoned before the film even gets going. Asguardian faithful Chris Hemsworth steps in to fill the role of imaginatively named, wannabe mercenary Bill the Kid. Bill is the film's young pretender and surrogate son to Barney’s (Stallone’s) father figure. But if mentoring Thor wasn't bad enough then Barney has other problems in the form of female bad-ass Maggie (Nan Yu) who Church insists on joining the rag tag team's mission implausible. Maggie and Bill represent the more reflective and sentimental side of the film, providing a little bit of soul between the ludicrously high body count and one-liners. Not to mention being the jump off point for some gut-wrenchingly awful dialogue about dying dogs, working for the military and getting too close to people.

Their mission is daft, improbable and yet provides a perfect framework for the high adrenalin, overblown action that follows. The group go after Vilain (yes that’s really his name) played superbly by Jean-Claude Van Damme whose every wry, curt, forked tongue line showcases the fact he was born to be the bad guy. Vilain has enslaved hundreds of local villagers and is forcing them to mine for a stash of Russian weapon’s grade plutonium hidden after the Cold War (in Asia?). The booty is worth billions on the black market and represents enough raw material to help whip up a fair few nukes. Thankfully Vilain's well equipped army of thousands are no match for Barney's (9?) poorly equipped pensionable heroes.

Trying to over analyse and rip apart this steroid fuelled homage to the 80s-90s action movie and the careers that thrived therein would require a bitter critic completely without a sense of fun or irony. In truth this film isn’t really a classic but it is hard to deny that it isn’t pretty damn entertaining. It doesn’t take itself anywhere near as seriously as the first film and the humour levels are through the roof even if the dialogue isn’t always intentionally meant to be funny.

Awesome cameos from Chuck Norris and greater participation from Willis and Schwarzenegger give the sequel an edge over the first film. Simon West gets the best out of the actors and B-Movie plot, crafting some seriously fun OTT action sequences from the bloated Hollywood budget.