The Expendables Are Anything But

It’s September, which means saying goodbye to summer. Be­fore you do, I suggest watching the last great flick of the summer, The Expendables 2.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stal­lone), along with his right-hand man Lee Christmas (Jason Sta­tham) and the rest of his crew: Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunner Jenson (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), and Toll Road (Randy Couture) along with new member Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), are forced by Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to find an item of incredible importance to the CIA. The government also forces them to bring along Mag­gie Chen (Yu Nan), an expert on the safe the item is being held in.

When they retrieve the con­tents of the safe they are am­bushed by an­other group of criminals led by Jean Vilain ( Jean – Claude Van Damme) who steals the item and kills one of the group members. With retrieving the item as an afterthought, Mag­gie tags along and leads them to where she believes Vilain is hid­ing so they can take revenge for the death of their brother and blow plenty of stuff up along the way.

During their self-appointed mission, they’ll also team up with fellow mercenary Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris) and, like Marvel’s The Avengers, everyone man­ages to have plenty of screen time without being shortchanged.

Some people complain that ac­tion films such as this are just hol­lowed out popcorn films without any heart, made to satisfy testos­terone filled manly-men who just want to see things blow up, the bad guy get what’s coming to him during a spectacular final battle, and the muscular hero get the hot damsel in distress at the end. This is not that kind of film.

While the film is indeed awe­some, this is also a well-made throwback to the action films of the eighties that gives you what you paid for and more. Unlike most action films of today, the sense of camaraderie is amazing. You get a sense that these men of action do care about each other as if they were all from the same mother.

There is no damsel in distress. Alongside Black Widow, Maggie Chen is one of the best female movie characters I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. The actors are clearly enjoying their roles and having a good time, Van Damme especially relishing his role as the villain. If you aren’t convinced by anyone’s acting, well, guess what? They’re not acting; they’re having a ball and the movie is all the bet­ter for it.

Starting at the glorious open­ing action sequence where every­thing goes boom and the question of who would win between a mo­torcycle and a helicopter is finally solved, lots of blood is spilled, and heads explode; the movie hardly ever slows down. When there’s no action, there’s plenty of banter and bonding between the characters to keep your attention until the next one and every sequence of action delivers and more.

This is not a movie where you worry about the script, the cin­ematography, or any other artistic quali­ties. This is a movie where you’re thrilled to see Nor­ris, Stallone, Schwarzeneg­ger, and Wil­lis fight side by side and even exchange memorable one liners.

Director Simon West (Tomb Raider, Con Air) turned out to be a great choice for the position. He clearly knows what kind of movie he is directing and goes all out and delivers money shot after money shot. He knows when to show the excessive kills and the tight one-on-one fights such as Lee facing Vilain’s right hand man (Scott Ad­kins). To his credit, West does a great job of showing just how out of place Billy the Kid is. The guy has no scars whatsoever, and the sweater he wears at a biker bar makes him a human target. How­ever, Hemsworth might be the only reason your girlfriend will go see the movie with you. That could be producer Stallone’s plan.

The final half hour is worth the price of the movie ticket alone. It’s no date movie; this is the film you go to see with the boys and head to the bar after to discuss its awe­someness. Actually, this is also the perfect movie to bring your dad to as a way of thanking him for letting you stay up late watch­ing those classic action films be­hind your mother’s back when you were too young.

I saw this with a friend who was somewhat disappointed with the first one but no complaints this time. I know the statement “sit back and enjoy the ride,” is pretty cliché, but with this movie it is in­deed appropriate. Stallone and the boys are back in town. See ’em be­fore they leave.