The Twelve Horsemen (and woman) of the Apocalypse
Since the birth of cinema, the medium of film has been exquisitely used to tell tales of great human feats, journeys and conquests, to the most minutest universal human emotions and experiences. The Expendables 2 is none of these.
And why should it be? Sometimes it’s good to let loose. Distract yourself briefly from the hard slog of a day, and embrace a guilty pleasure. There’s certainly enough crap going on around us with excessive corporate destruction of, well everything really. If only we had a hero to guide us through it all. So in the zeitgeist of said excessiveness, how about twelve heroes.
I’m not going to list off all the people involved in Expendables 2, basically it would take up the rest of the review. You’ve seen the posters, and we’ll post the trailer below. Arriving on the back of explosion fest that is Expendables (2010), itself starring/written/directed by Sylvester Stallone (Barney Ross), it takes all the good things from that (yes there were a lot of good things), and gives it to the guy who directed the awesome Con Air (Simon West), to effectively turn everything up to 12. Even higher than Spinal Tap’s speakers.
On EVERY level this movie is ridiculous, and it is so much better for it. There has to be more stuff blowing up in the opening 10 minutes of this movie than in all the movies of the entire cast history. Well maybe not, but it can’t be far off it. Imagine a retirement home for 80s/90s action heroes, maybe the combat ready (sort of) dark side of Cocoon (a deliberate 80s reference), just blowing stuff up, a lot.
On paper it may not seem to make sense, but maybe it’s not supposed to. The story may have been written on a soggy beer mat in crayon. But the story isn’t really important, it’s the journey that is. The script however is actually (mostly) brilliant on comedy terms. Some absolutely awesome lines are belted out with such levels of testosterone that every word seems to have an erection in it.
In particular Dolph Lundgren (Gunner Jensen) shines with comedic ability, he really should be making comedies. Everyone else is really funny too though. All willing to lovingly mock and reference the movies that made their earlier careers which have made them household names today. The only slight drawback to such a joyous script, is in moments of apparent sincerity. Basically we all laughed through them too, but that’s an awesome UK audience for you.
Dolph isn’t on his own. Stand out moments come from Arnold Schwarzenegger (Trench) and most wonderfully ridiculous from Chuck Norris (Booker), ANY movie that references Norris’ 83 movie Lone Wolf McQuade shines in my book. Being a teen of the 80s, I’ve pretty much grew up with every movie all of these guys have made. If I was to go back and look at them now, they would no doubt be rubbish. But the memory of them holds a lot of love. It certainly added to the experience of watching Expendables 2 knowing all the not at all subtle references, but you don’t need to know them, it’s still great fun.
Expendables is now established as a franchise, harking from another era, that quite aptly refuses to die, or Norris-esque, can’t be killed. It is a brute of a Big Daddy (80s reference, again) dumb wonderful movie. There is talk of where it will go next, possibly with Clint Eastwood, Nick Cage, Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes joining the fray. Again, I don’t care if that’s written in crayon either, I will DEFINITELY go see them all in the same movie.
It won’t be winning any Oscars, unless there’s a ‘Best Cameo’ section. But it’s not trying too. There’s a tremendous bombastic honesty in Expendables 2 which I love. Thankfully it wasn’t in 3D though, as it would have blown up my eyes.
The Expendables 2 is released in UK cinemas today by Lionsgate.