“What’s next? Rambo?”
In 2010 Sylvester Stalone came up with what many fans of action movies would’ve stood up in line and agreed with him and say is the greatest idea of all time. Instead of worrying about plot and character, just find an excuse to get x-number of the greatest action heroes of yesteryear from the movie industry into one mega-all-star movie in which things just constantly blow up and nothing ever makes sense. Sadly the idea wasn’t exactly the greatest finished product, but I give him a pat on the back for trying no less.
Two years later, with the first film making a hefty profit regardless of what I thought of it, Stalone finally has enough backing to be able to hire a director more capable than him. So who does he turn to but “my movie’s so shitty it’s awesome action cheese” Mr. Simon West. Simon West has had his brushes with failures (The General’s Daughter), but I will always choose to remember him as the man who gave me the craptastic lovely master of action movie nonsense that is Con Air (and if you don’t like that movie, please remove yourself from the internet please).
In a much more polished and well paced action film that actually delivers on its promise of through and through action movie making. There are very few films which do that today, the last film to truly deliver that promise is The A-Team, which beyond anything else provided entertainment in droves. This film does the very same thing.
West does well to find relatively inconsequential ways of embedding a lot of the new cameos in the film without taking it too far. There are a lot of dialogue reference gags between them, as Chuck Norris talks about being a “Lone Wolf”, Schwarzenegger says “I’m back” and “I’ll be back” about five times and Bruce Willis has a “Yippie-kay-yay”-ish moment later in the film, but at the end of the day they’re all done with the right amount of tongue-in-cheek that we get to enjoy it all in the same way that we’ve all said those lines as we head out of the office to get lunch and it works.
In this film as opposed to the previous film we don’t spend all that much time having to set up a motivation for why Barney (Sylvester Stalone) and the gang are going after Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Unlike the first film – if I can try and remember correctly – where it spent a better part of an hour setting up the job for the team to go and deal with some government/military problems in South America (who remembers the plot of The Expendables?), here however it’s a quick, and I mean quick, revenge setup that allows for films like this to enjoy very simple and linear storytelling and allow for a lot of nonsensical action. As opposed to the previous film where we end up spending too long thinking about to shoot or not to shoot, that is the question.
Shakespearean jokes aside; I’m almost ready to retroactively give The Expendables a pass for the sake that it allowed for this bigger and better sequel. It was the experiment that was required to get us here and that is great.