Published: 16 August, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
The Expendables II
Directed by Simon West
Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars
THIS film is so preposterous that it surely doesn’t deserve to be recommended: yet it is meant to be preposterous, so it deserves five stars for sheer stupidity.
Director, writer and leading man Sly Stallone said he wanted to make a film that harked back to the 1980s big-boy action flicks that he and his co-stars did so well (or badly, depending on your taste).
So, like the Blues Brothers, he’s got the band back together and they’ve hit the trail to do in some bad guys.
The Expendables II illustrates perfectly why these films are so dated.
Basically, they are rubbish.
Even the adolescent boys who might have once enjoyed them have moved on.
This time around, as with the last instalment, the gang of cigar-chomping, old-school action men have been asked by the CIA to hunt down a safe full of secret plans lost somewhere in a place where foreign types live and bring it back to the US in one piece.
It sounds easy, but then a terror group with a cave stashed full of plutonium and an enslaved village make this a much less than straightforward mission.
The action kicks off with our gang of gnarled veterans arriving at the usual heavily fortified compound in a lawless Asian town in Humvee-style attack vehicles to rescue a kidnap victim. Guns blaze, heads explode, guts fly.
Later in the film we are treated to Sly and Bruce Willis cramming themselves into a Smart car as they take on the baddies.
It’s as if the two different vehicles show how the world has changed. From gas-guzzler to electric car – it’s a potent symbol.
From the off, the action involves bullets whizzing into everything except our heroes. The blood-letting is so constant it becomes a joke within a minute of the start.
The script has its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout.
Chuck Norris appears every so often at opportune moments to save the skins of the Expendables, and when he does he is accompanied by a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western riff.
The various ageing action stars repeat each other’s trademark one-liners (Bruce Willis telling Arnie he’ll be back, Arnie answering Yippie-ki-yay, for example).
Not a scene goes by where they are not taking the rise out of each other’s on and off-screen personas.
Like the state of their hairlines, it wears thin after a while, but still, you’ve got to admire a film packed with names such as Lundgren, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger, Norris, Willis, Li and relative newcomer Jason Statham.
The only one missing is Steven Seagal – perhaps he has been kidnapped by a gang of unreformed Cold War commies, and is trussed up in a cave deep in the Afghan countryside, just waiting for a gang of wrinkly film stars to bust him free.