The Expendables 2
Directed by Simon West
I wanted to like this movie. Really. Old guard action stars Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger out to prove they can still cut the mustard. What's not to root for? But the strain shows in The Expendables 2, even with flashy editing and a pounding soundtrack. Like the 2010 original, The Expendables 2 is all sound and fury signifying nothing, when at the very least it should add up to big, dumb fun. This sequel doesn't wear down your resistance; it just wears you out. It helps (a little) that Simon West, of that immortal guilty pleasure Con Air, takes over the directing chores from Stallone. But the script, by Stallone and Richard Wenk, doesn't so much defy credulity as bludgeon it to death. It's up to Stallone's Barney Ross and his AARP team to save the world by grabbing hold of a stash of plutonium from a plane that crashed in Albania before the villain (Van Damme) gets it first. Simple stuff. Barney's second-in-command Lee Christmas (Jason Statham, a baby at 44) is back in play. And there's new blood in the form of Liam Hemsworth as a sniper trained in Afghanistan and Yu Nam as a Chinese tech genius who is – OMFG! – a woman. Their contractor, Mr. Trench (Willis), insists on it. And their friendly rival Trench (Schwarzenegger) is amused by it. Cue the hail of bullets. "Rest in pieces," cries Barney before blowing away a fool. The script tries to beat audiences and critics to the punch by supplying its own insults. Spotting an aircraft on its last leg, Stallone says, "that plane belongs in a museum." Snaps Schwarzenegger, "we all do." Ouch. The truth hurts.