‘The Expendables 2′
By Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
“The Expendables 2” is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. This meathead extravaganza contains about 15 minutes of decipherable dialogue and about 90 minutes of explosions and seems designed for those who thought the original “Expendables” wasn’t gonzo enough.
Rounding up the last few faded action stars who weren’t in the original, this one adds Jean-Claude Van Dame as a villain named Vilain, and a 72-year-old Chuck Norris, who despite his strangely dyed beard, looks unable to lift a weapon, much less shoot one.
The plot involves lots of shooting in cheap former Eastern-bloc countries and a ruthless profiteer (Van Dame) mining for a hidden stockpile of Soviet plutonium.
Sylvester Stallone has made something of a cottage industry out of making old-dude action pictures, which harken back to an ‘80s aesthetic where might makes right. The advanced age of these muscle-bound relics has become Sly’s most enduring running joke. But as Indiana Jones once said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” and this high-mileage crew seems even closer to the junkyard than ever. And it became impossible for me to ignore, even while I chuckled at the increasingly ludicrous images on screen. Sly even pulls out the old motorcycle-taking-out-a-helicopter routine, and that’s just in the first 15 minutes.
Stallone the screenwriter seems intent on ramping up the ridiculousness, throwing his crew around the world from one rust bucket to another. He seems to care little about whether the seams are starting to show. As the years have caught up to Stallone, his nominally decipherable dialogue has calcified into a barely audible grumble, his step has slowed, and his ‘roided-out muscles are even more grotesque.
I knew what I was witnessing wasn’t worth the time and money I spent to see it (“Expendables 2” was not screened for critics), but I admit I got a few chuckles out of it in a so-bad-it’s-kind-of -good way.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis each get more of an integral role this time around. Arnold even gets the film’s best lines. At one point, he trots out the old “I’ll be back,” to which Willis retorts: “You’ve been back enough.”