Once in a while there comes a movie that changes your perspective on a genre. The Matrix turned the action genre upside down. Titanic made boat movies enjoyable. The Lord of the Rings brought a whole new legitimacy to fantasy films. Bill & Ted did…stuff.
Having said that, The Expendables 2 isn’t a film that will change your perspective on anything ever. The odds are, you aren’t expecting it to, either. What you expect is to walk into a movie theater, sit down, and grow a full beard from having so much testosterone pumped through your face at one time. In that respect, The Expendables 2 delivers, but that’s about where the enjoyment stops.
Though it goes without saying, there is little to no character development. No one seems to care because they are too busy gawking, “OMG datz Chuck Norris ‘n’ he’s telling a Chuck Norris joke! Lololololololol!” Well, alright then. The fact that the film is so blatantly aware of its own cheesiness is one of its strengths. There weren’t a whole lot of callbacks to the best action movie ever (Die Hard) and that’s depressing, considering how often The Terminator and Rambo get brought up. On the other hand, it’s okay that they didn’t defile the name of the greatest film they spoofed.
While the aging actors seemed to phone in most of the performances, Jason Stathom actually stands out from the pack. Sure, he dresses like a priest and says, “I now pronounce you man and knife,” but directly after that he proceeds to eviscerate a room full of baddies in the utmost stylish way. His fight scenes make it a little sad to see big, clunky Sly Stallone as the guy taking on Van Damme in the climax. What a missed opportunity.
The cameos are fun, however useless they are. It’s cool that they have Chuck Norris wipe out a small army on his own. Yet, him showing up, shooting some dudes, and cracking a joke, only to return later to do it again, doesn’t really serve a purpose other than a little shock value. Seeing Arnie on screen again is beyond fun, and Bruce Willis holding a gun is enough to sell this movie a million times. Yet, the credits roll and you’re left saying, “I just don’t really care about any of that stuff. BUT DID YOU SEE ALL THE BLOOD?” That about sums it up.
The only heart to The Expendables 2 is when people are getting exploded. The rest is a fun summer romp to kill a couple hours. It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s a giant one-line joke.