Movie Review: “The Expendables 2” – Prepare for Testicular Steeling

Written by Jesse Gelinas August 29, 2012

That’s as high as they can raise those guns now.

“Shoot something!”

The process can be painful; it is an unavoidable side effect. Your body will go through changes, and in the end, you will be quite different. It is a risky procedure, but in the end, you will prevail. Your balls will become solid steel like the blades of ancient Damascus. You will be bloodied. You will be beaten, but in the end you will prevail. Because you are a man. You are a manly man. And manly men deserve balls of steel. Ladies, you will find your testicular attachments under your seats.

**WARNING: Spoilers below trailer**

“I now pronounce you man… and knife.”

The film picks up sometime after the first, with the team on a rescue mission in Nepal (of all places). After demolishing the village in their armored cars, shooting a race of people into extinction, and then ziplining through a jungle, they head back home to New York City. There, Ross (Stallone) is approached by the mysterious Church (Willis) about a job in Albania. They are to locate a downed plane, retrieve the contents of an onboard safe and bring them back. Easy right? Wrong! Because Jean-Claude van Damme is gonna show up, wreck their shit, and roundhouse kick a bowie knife through someone’s chest. Oh, and the movie is about plutonium. I don’t think they’ve used plutonium as a plot device since, like, ’91. Hilarity and excessive testosterone ensue.

The film delivers action and adrenaline with a 200cc syringe directly into the heart. I would be shocked to find that less than 60% of the film consisted of rapid gunfire. The action is impressive and over the top at the same time, and every scene is ripe with one-liners and homages to classic action flicks. Van Damme is actually a pretty kickass villain and the final fight that you just know is coming is pretty entertaining. Almost every face you’d want to see is present, and it almost warms the heart at times. The manly heart, that is. The manly heart of STEEL.

He looks almost young, doesn’t he?

“Who’s next, Rambo?”

The film is not without its abundance of flaws. Every other line is a cheesy one-liner, which I can forgive because that is what these flicks are about, but most of them are delivered so badly that they come off as just sad attempts. Almost none of the dialogue is in any way unforced, and every joke was obviously written by Stallone who seemingly has no real sense of humour. Lundgren gives the best performances, which actually worries me. Stallone and Schwarzenegger look old as shit and actually make guys like Statham and Couture look like youngins.  Norris shows up for a few badly staged exchanges (and even a “random Chuck Norris facts” joke), but his real entertainment value comes when he’s wordlessly mowing down baddies with a machine gun (one-handed, of course).

You may recall in my “Lockout” review when I said that movie was the return to 80’s action movie that fans of action-cheese were waiting for. The first “Expendables” movie missed that mark by taking itself too seriously. This one does not make that same mistake. It does, however, make some new ones. It goes so far in the other direction that it almost becomes a parody of a parody of itself. The jokes fall flat, the one-liners are failed by their unenthused deliveries, and Stallone is no longer young (or human) enough to be allowed a love interest!

That man is 72 years old

“Rest in pieces.”

I wanted this movie to entertain the shit out of me, and it did. Honestly, it rocked me to the core for a solid 102 minutes of pulse pounding action. I forgive its shortcomings because these movies are not about quality. They’re about turning off all but the most primitive parts of your brain and allowing the mindless carnage to envelop you in a cocoon of blood and gunpowder. I salute you, “Expendables”. I salute you for keeping us men in check. All men spend time honestly theorizing how we would fare in hypothetical action scenarios (terrorist attacks, missile strikes, civil wars, etc). This movie lets us stop for a couple hours, and watch the masters do it.

My Ratings:

Brain ON: 5/10

Brain OFF: 9/10

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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