A film by Simon West.
As the tagline states, The Expendables are back and ready for war. And also, they are back to cash their paychecks.
Since the last installment in The Expendables saga, Mickey Rourke is nowhere to be found, and in his place is an Army sniper referred to as Billy The Kid (Liam "Not Chris" Hemsworth). Billy is teamed up with the rest of The Expendables: Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Hale Caeser (Terry Crews), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture).
After completing their latest mission, Yin decides to step out of the film and Billy informs Barney that he is ready to quit The Expendables and live a normal life with his French girlfriend. Before that can happen, the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) reappears and makes Barney and his team accept a mission to Albania where a plane has crashed with a safe. Barney and his team are to retrieve the contents of the safe and return the items, along with a tag along provided by Church, Maggie (Yu Nan), in pristine condition.
With such a simple job, you know things will never go that smoothly. Before Barney and the team are able to complete the mission, they are interrupted by super villain, Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). The contents of the safe are taken, along with the life of an Expendable. Needless to say, Barney and The Expendables are not happy with this turn of events and will not rest until they stop Vilain and blow up almost all of Europe.
The biggest problem I had with the original Expendables was that the film seemed to take itself way too seriously for a film that was supposed to be fun. The infamous monologue delivered by Mickey Rourke is a sequence that still makes me cringe when I think about it. The first Expendable adventure tried WAY too hard to be a fun 80's film. You cannot purposely make a fun 80's action film. Those things happen by accident (see 1995's Sudden Death starring Jean-Claude Van Damme for proof).
Most of the seriousness of the first film has been taken away, but that has created a new problem. The film is too self-referential now. Some of the most groan-inducing one-liners in the history of film found their way into The Expendables 2. This film finds itself on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to tone. Yes, I do think the violence is harder in this film, but when not blowing limbs off random bad guys, this film's tongue is planted way too firmly into it's cheek.
As bad as it is to say, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Trench seems to suffer the most in this film. Everything out of his mouth is a horrendous one-liner. Now, I love me some cheesy one-liners, but these one-liners are not about the action on film. These are more along the lines of describing the actors. If you don't believe me about the awful, forced one-liners, just wait for the "Yippie-Ki-Yay" one-liner. The way it is used is so forced that you just have to roll your eyes and stop yourself from booing at the screen.
Beyond the one-liners, Randy Couture's Toll Road still continues to serve no purpose in the film. Each character seems to have some quirk, but basically Toll is there to just stand off to the side. Along with Toll, Jet Li makes what should be considered an extended cameo instead of a starring role. Granted the action he does in the film is entertaining, it is just disappointing to see his character randomly leave the film without a proper goodbye. And then there's Chuck Norris' Booker. Well, he's useless. His character has no explanation as he is a "lone wolf" yet appears out of nowhere, disappears and then reappears again. A horrible character who is only there to sell a couple tickets for the people who would be wanting to see Chuck Norris on the big screen again.
I don't want you to feel this will all be negativity, as there were some good things in this film. As with the first one, Dolph Lundgren again is one of the best reasons to see the film. I really believe that Dolph is the only actor who understands what The Expendables films should be. He brings the action but also the fun. Beyond Dolph, Jean-Claude Van Damme is a very welcome addition to The Expendables franchise, even if he is underused. Van Damme brings a giddy menace that the first film was missing. His character wants to destroy the world (what else would a super villain want?) and will do anything to accomplish his mission. Unfortunately, besides his first scene and last scene, he is relegated to just barking out orders as his plan is under way. Overall, though, Van Damme is a good choice and you can tell he really embellished the role.