Ok, today is not entirely my fault. I use my phone as my alarm clock, probably like the majority of people do, and unfortunately I forgot to charge my phone last night so it ended up dying on me. Now that my excuse is out of the way, on to today’s movie. So yesterday, I watched an action movie that was chock full of action stars and over the top action. So when a sequel was named, I wondered how they would top it. Well, the obvious answer was to add more action heroes and make the action even more over the top. What more could you possibly ask for from today’s movie, The Expendables 2.
The plot: The Expendables (Barney Ross, Lee Christmas, Yin Yang, Gunner Jensen, Hale Caesar, and Toll Road) are in Nepal, using customized armored vehicles to break into a military stronghold. After dealing with all of the soldiers, they rescue a Chinese billionaire and are surprised to discover that Trench Mauser was also being held captive and rescue him as well. Trench goes his own way and The Expendables use the power lines as zip lines to get out of the city. Barney is shot and the line that he and Christmas are on ends up snapping, causing them to fall to the ground. They are quickly surrounded but are saved by Billy the Kid, the team’s sniper and newest member. The rest of the team make it to their boat but are followed by more soldiers and as they fend them off, they are helped by Billy, as well as Barney and Christmas in their plane. and after shaking off their pursuers, manage to take off. As they are flying over China, Yang, who is leaving the team for a while, puts on a parachute and jumps out of the plane with the billionaire. When they get back to New Orleans, they head to a local bar, where Lacy meets up with Christmas to welcome him back. Meanwhile, Billy speaks with Barney and says he plans on leaving the team but wants to finish out his contract first. Barney heads back to his plane and finds Church waiting for him there, who is upset over what happened in Vilena but instead of having the team arrested, he tells them that they are going on a mission to Albania and assigns Maggie Chang to accompany them, despite Barney’s objections. When they arrive in Albania, they quickly find the plane and Barney has Billy go take a vantage point to keep watch while they get the item from the wreckage. Locating the safe, Barney and Caesar hold the door open while Maggie unlocks the safe but she accidentally sets off the explosives and has to disarm them before she can retrieve the package. As they are leaving, they are met by Jean Vilain, an international arms dealer, and his mercenary army, The Sangs, who have captured Billy and demand that they surrender. When they threaten to kill Billy, Barney reluctantly surrenders and Maggie hands over the case she retrieved. Vilain has the team lie face down as he goes to board an arriving helicopter, stabbing Billy in the heart before he leaves. Barney rushes to Billy, who asks him to retrieve a letter from his pocket before he dies. Barney asks Maggie about the case and she tells him it contains a map for a mine where the Soviets had hidden 5 tons of weapons grade plutonium. After burying Billy, they leave to go after Vilain, with Church contacting them as they are flying to find out what is happening. In Russia, Vilain heads to the mine and his right hand man Hector kills an exhausted worker in order to motivate the rest of the captive workers. Vilain tells him to get the plutonium in 2 days, as his buyers will be picking it up in 3 days. Landing the plane by an abandoned farm, the team hotwire a truck and heads to a nearby village where the Sangs are known to hang out and after Barney and Christmas knock out the men at the bar, Maggie proceeds to torture one for information. Barney sends Christmas back to the plane to get their weapons while he and the others continue towards where the mine is located, stopping to rest at an old Soviet training area. In the morning, Barney and the others find themselves surrounded by Sangs and try to hold them off but quickly run out of ammo. Suddenly, someone kills off the remaining Sang, as well as destroying their tank, and Barney and the others are met by Booker, an old mercenary friend of Barney’s. Booker tells Barney what he knows about the Sangs and after declining Barney’s invitation to join them, saying he works alone, he points them towards a village that will help them. Christmas shows up with the weapons and they head towards the village, where they find the women there are armed and willing to die to protect their children from being taken by the Sangs for labor. When the Sangs show up to grabs the children, the team kills them all then heads to the mine. After seeing the defenses around the mine, they get back on the plane and fly it into the mine, taking out the defenses on the way. They save the workers from being executed but discover the plutonium is already gone, just as Vilain sets off the detonators, trapping the Expendables and the workers in the mine. Gunner tries making a bomb to get them free but after it doesn’t work, they are rescued by Trench. As the women and children are reunited with the men from the village, Church arrives with a helicopter and they take off after Vilain. Catching up to him at the airport, the Expendables, along with Church and Trench, begin fighting with Vilain and the Sangs. As they continue fighting in the terminal, Booker shows up to lend a hand while Barney goes after Vilain on his own. Hector goes to get the escape helicopter ready but Christmas shows up, killing his men and fighting with Hector, eventually killing him by throwing him into the tail rotor of the helicopter. Meanwhile, Barney catches up to Vilain and after a back and forth fight, finally kills him by stabbing him with his knife. Afterwards, Church says that he and Barney are even and gets ready to leave, with Trench and Booker getting a ride with him. Maggie tells she will stay if he wants but he tells her he doesn’t want her to end up damaged like the rest of his team so she leaves. Before flying off, Church tells Barney he got him a new plane, pointing towards an old prop plane sitting on the runway, and the Expendables get inside and give a toast to Billy as they fly home.
The Expendables 2 fared much better with the critics than it’s predecessor, holding a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Taut, violent, and suitably self-deprecating, The Expendables 2 gives classic action fans everything they can reasonably expect from a star-studded shoot-’em-up — for better and for worse.” There was some controversy during filming in Bulgaria as environmentalists said that a massive drop in the bat population in the Devetashka Cave (almost 75%) was caused by the movie’s production, with the European Commission eventually getting involved and a Bulgarian court ruling that the crew violated their filming license. The movie was a box office hit, earning $305.4 million off of a $100 million budget.
This was one of the rare times where the sequel was better than the original. This is such a fun movie to watch. The acting was good, with the interaction between the different members of the Expendables (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Crews, and Couture) making for some really funny moments. I also like the interaction with Willis and Schwartenegger as well as Chuch Norris (Booker) and Jean-Claude Van Damme (Vilain). The story was good, with a nice mix of having the team under go a mission as well as adding the revenge factor into the mix. The action and fight scenes were very well choreographed, with Jet Li and Jason Statham both having some very good solo scenes in that regard. The end fight between Stallone and Van Damme was honestly a little anti-climactic in comparison but it still had a couple of good spots to it. Definitely worth watching for any action fan.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5