I saw The Expendables 2 on the first Friday it was out, but my computer has been on the fritz so I haven’t been able to get around to a review until now. Here it is.
Prior to seeing The Expendables 2, I rewatched the first Expendables on Netflix. If there was a criticism of the original Expendables, it was that it dragged before the climactic action sequence. While I was gung ho about the first Expendables and made my feelings known, on reviewing it, I can see that complaint. What was so great about the first one, however, was that the last 20 minutes or so was one of the best extended action sequences in cinematic history, which redeemed the movie and made you forget about the slow pace getting there.
Expendables 2, likely in response to the criticism of the first one, avoids this issue. It opens with a gun blazing rescue scene and mixes in enough action along the way to avoid dragging. The climactic action sequence, however, isn’t nearly as good as the first one. On the whole, I liked the first one better, but 2 is still a must see.
As for what the second one did well, I think Van Damme makes an excellent villain. The climatic mano a mano fight with Stallone was not as exciting as Stallone vs. Stone Cold in 1, but over all JCVD makes for a very hateble villain. I’m surprised he hasn’t appeared as a villain more often. I also think Chuck Norris was used well if sparingly. I’m not sure why he was used so sparingly (contract and/or age issues perhaps), but the scene when he first makes his appearance was very well done. My theater was cheering. There were also plenty of references to all the stars’ old action movies to keep 80′s action movie fanboys happy. And Jason Statham continues to solidify his place as the number one modern action star.
As for what the movie didn’t do as well, Jet Li had an inexplicably small part. (Was he filming something else?) I think Li brings a comic element to the group that none of the others can pull off as well. Also, I thought there were some pacing/editing issues. I know there was a deliberate effort to keep the running time down, so I’m sure that had a lot to do with it, but there were moments when the movie went from one scene to the next rather abruptly with minimal transition. It left me with the feeling that a lot of the movie must have ended up on the cutting room floor. There were no fatal flaws. The story was discernible, but the abruptness of some of the transitions left me a little unsatisfied. I know executives make a lot of these decisions and the creative people are left to deal with them, but would it have killed them to let the run time go a few minutes longer. (Shorter run times potentially allow for more showings.)
Anyway, go see it if you haven’t already, although I’m sure that the manly men who read this blog already have.
Also, I hope to go see the anti-Obama movie tonight or tomorrow. I’ll be back with a review of that after I do.