Lionsgate. D: Simon West. An improvement on the first installment, THE EXPENDABLES 2 is a fun, lightweight, big-screen action/adventure that re-unites Sylvester Stallone with his fellow 80's-present action icons. New to the mix are Cannon Films' action gods Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme while Jet Li is reduced to a cameo this time out.
After an impressive action-packed pre-credit sequence featuring a surprise rescue, Church (Bruce Willis) makes an unwelcome visit and demands a 'favor' from Ross (Stallone). This time Ross' team (Jason Statham, Dolph Lungren, UFC's Randy Couture, footballer Terry Crews and Liam Wemsworth) must reluctantly take a woman along, (Nan Yu of SPEED RACER), setting of a chain reaction of silly sexist gags, on a mission to stop a plutonium deal that will empower terrorists. The mission turns tragic when soon-to-be married pretty boy Hemsworth (HUNGER GAMES) is taken hostage and tragically snuffed out by the greasy villain, Vilain (Van Damme), a ruthless trader in plutonium. For Stallone and his steroid-fueled team, the mission becomes personal and revenge is the flimsy excuse to unleash industrial-strength mega-quantities of CG blood, mayhem and mass destruction. The near apocalyptic climax is spear-headed by the trio of Stallone, Willis and ex-governator Arnold Schwarzenegger wildly trading off firepower, inside jokes and insults .
There is a nice a balance between big-scale stunts and explosions and nicely choreographed hand-to-hand combat. The standout fight scene features Statham (THE TRANSPORTER and CRANK series) taking on a slew of thugs in a church. Li also has a nice but brief fight in a kitchen using pots and pans!
The satisfying finale is a mano-a-mano death duel between Sly and Van Damme, although die-hard action fans would have paid handsomely to see Jet and Jean-Claude go at it.Scott Adkins, a veteran of Hollywood and Hong Kong action films (ACCIDENTAL SPY, BLACK MASK 2, THE MEDALLION) makes a suitably sinister henchman for Van Damme and gets to shine in a few sequences. Chuck Norris makes at least two cameos and provides comic relief without getting physical and exerting himself.