If there’s one thing The Expendables 2 is really good at—and there is pretty much just this one thing—it’s demonstrating that 2010’s The Expendables was a one-joke wonder that had more than fulfilled its potential before that first movie had even finished unspooling. This dumb movie wants you to find it absolutely hilarious that random ’80s action heroes—now puffy with age and sporting embarrassingly bad dye jobs—pop up in deus ex actioner situations, trade quippy and dated one-liners with one another and then disappear again.
Generally, the less awesome and more cheesy an ’80s action hero is, the more screen time he gets here. So prepare for a lot of Dolph Lundgren, and not so much of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis. This time out, a girl crashes this He-Man Woman-Haters Club—in the form of Maggie (Nan Yu), because Awesome Chinese Badass Chick!—as they head out to scenic Albania on a new mission, which is interrupted by Euro baddie Jean-Claude Van Damme. His character is called “Jean Vilain,” which translates exactly as you think it does.
Director Simon West, who clearly has decided that his own Con Air was too artsy-fartsy and intellectual, provides little physical context for most of the action. But he does glob on extra-meaty, extra-gory splatter for each of the numerous gun battles. And he figured out how to shoot armored vehicles and cartoon physics like he’s making pornography. If I wanted to be generous, I might suppose that West is doing what he can with a script that required four screenwriters, including Stallone, to come up with notions such as “The gang finds abandoned military equipment just lying conveniently around Albania as needed.”
There’s a level of brutal, boring stupidity here that makes The A-Team look like it was written by Sun Tzu. It’s all a big joke. Except it isn’t in the least bit funny.
THE EXPENDABLES 2
Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme