Monday, August 20, 2012

Expendables 2

New Movie Release
Except for the stiff dialogue, Stallone's 
new flick isn't bad at all

But there's a problem...

Take a moment and think back to the last fair or carnival you went to. 

Remember ambling up to the gaudy food trailer and ordering one of those thick, juicy cheeseburgers with a side of fries?

Remember the dripping grease? The cholesterol overload? The fact that your arteries simply looked at each other and just shook their head in despair?

That's Expendables 2

And yes, that cheeseburger was very bad for you. But God, did it taste good. It's a simple fact that sometimes food that is bad for you - is good for you.

That doesn't make a lick of sense? Sure it does. You spend all week sitting down to healthy meals with your family....and sometimes it feels good to let loose.

I was pleasantly surprised by Expendables 2

No, there are no Oscars in its future...nor will any of the characters be invited as new Mensa members any time soon. 

Do we really care?

Director Simon West, who I just talked about a few days ago while reviewing Con Air, gives us an action movie that is just action movie. A balls-out action movie.

Shit blows up. A lot. 

Trucks crash. A lot. 

Automatic weapons are fired. A lot. 

The mercenary crew is back with Sly Stallone as Barney Ross, Jason Statham as Lee Christmas, and Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen. 

Joining them are Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Jet Li. Li's performance is disappointing mainly because his fight scenes are shot so dark, I couldn't really see him or what he was doing. Then he bails... literally.

Another pleasant surprise is Bruce Willis being Bruce Willis, and all that entails - and Yu Nan as Maggie, a Chinese asset.

I think Nan will go far, because she's gorgeous and fights impressively. Liam Hemsworth plays a new team member and a sniper...and jeez, you can see he's gonna buy the farm early a mile off.

The opening caught me by surprise, too. 

You see, Stallone, Lundgren, Statham and the rest of the crew break into a Nepal prison with a bunch of low-tech military trucks - one of which has a dirt-bike strapped to the front bumper. 

Then they get pinned down by a Chinese attack chopper.

I was fully expecting Statham to hop on the bike and do something heroic. Nuh-uh. Stallone twists the throttle on that sucker and sends it flying through the cockpit of the attack helicopter.

I like that. The same stunt was used in Live Free or Die Hard and The Losers. In both of those films I just rolled my eyes and sighed. But here the gag works, and I clapped and hooted.

The dialogue is really bad for the first half of the film, but does improve. At about 40 minutes in the grunting stops and these guys start actually talking to each other, which was a relief. 

At first I thought I was watching a movie about cavemen without the ability to speak coherently.

Cameos by Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris aren't funny, and don't add anything to the movie...except for one thing. 

You know how in most action films nobody runs out of ammo? Well, the main characters run out here - but not Chuck Norris. The ammo wouldn't dare run out on him.

Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Jean Vilian, and isn't annoying as usual. He's the baddie with a plan to - surprise, surprise - steal stockpiled uranium. 

Seriously, screenwriter dudes?

There are, of course, lots of gunfights and fistfights and fight fights. 

Plus, shit blows up. 

Stallone and the gang attempt to help Russian miners, and more shit blows up. The actual story is kinda lame - but so was plot in Con Air. And The Rock, Fast Five and even Independence Day

Who cares? 

We want to see guns blazing, hard-ass guys beating the crap out of each other - and shit blowing up.

And now the bad...

I really can't say too much without risk of giving away the ending, but screw it. 

Simon West, I have a bit of news. It isn't 1997. A ridiculous plot may have worked back when you made Con Air, but that shit doesn't fly anymore. (fly anymore, get it?)

Go read the reviews for Bourne Legacy, sir. 

People are starting to notice when tired story-lines are recycled...or worse, when there's no story to speak of.

Uranium? Really? When was the last time that crap had any value? Back when Sean Connery was James Bond, if I were to hazard a guess, you douche canoe writers.

I applaud mindless action movies, because sometimes we need mindless escapism. I have always maintained that it's perfectly okay for certain movies to be a simple two-hour getaway from reality. 

But damn, this is 2012. How about a plot that involves a little more than a madman with desire to pawn uranium? How about some characters that ain't so friggin' one-dimensional? 

Oh, and one more thing, Mr. West. When your main characters are trapped in a Russian town in the middle of absolute nowhere - how about having the obligatory Russian villagers speak - umm, I don't know - Russian? As opposed to perfect English? 

And while you're at it, if the Russian village didn't look like a sound stage in Southern California...that would be nice, too. And what's worse, Mr. West? You shot these scenes in Bulgaria! It should have looked Russiany!

I'm nitpicking. Expendables 2 is a lot of fun. It's well worth the ticket price and most certainly not a waste of time. Go get in your car, drive to the theater, and see it.

And take your girlfriend with you. She may say that she wants to see the latest chick-flick...but she really wants to see shit blow up.


Remember what I said about there being no Mensa members in this flick? That's not entirely true. 

Dolph Lundgren is an actual Swedish academic. 

You handsome man, you

Lundgren has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney, and he attended MIT. Go figure.

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