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The Expendables 2

Okay, so it took them two film’s before they finally got this thing right. “The Expendables 2” is the big, dumb, fun Dirty Dozen-esque movie that the original from 2010 was supposed to be. How did they manage to get it right this time around? Well, let’s start with the expanded roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis after mere cameos in 2010’s “The Expendables”, along with the better script that includes many of their classic lines from their 80’s originated action roles. Yeah, that nostalgia feels nice. Now, we did lose cast members Mickey Rourke and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin—who did not reprise their roles in this sequel. But, oh what was gained! Action relic Jean-Claude Van Damme as main baddie Jean Vilian(that name!…hey, I said Sylvester Stallone’s script was better this time, but I never said it was good), is a very welcome addition to the roster. Ditto 72-year-old Chuck Norris—whose character’s name and actions riff on a variety of his dumb-fun actioners from the 1980’s and 1970’s. Well played and cast for both new members. Then, there is the exclusion of star Stallone’s(of course, reprising his role as group leader, Barney Ross)directing “talents” for this follow-up, and the hiring of veteran helmer Simon West. West is responsible for bringing us bruising blockbusters like 1997’s “Con Air” and 2001’s “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”. In other words, West has been familiar with this territory for well over a decade. Returning members include Jason Statham as Lee Christmas(the knife expert of the team, and at 45, the youngster of the group)and Jet Li as Yin Yang(what else but the hand-to hand, martial arts master). Also returning is Stallone’s “Rocky IV” opponent Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen(and after 3 decades I still can’t understand a damn thing he’s saying), as well Terry Crews as Hale Caesar and Randy Couture as Toll Road(again, those names! What’s in Stallone’s water out in California?). There’s a few other returnees and newbies among the cast, with Asian beauty Yu Nan as Maggie Chan providing for the first time the only sampling of estrogen these dudes have encountered throughout the roughly 3 and a half hour running time of the combined original adventure and its continuation. Plot? You want plot? Oh, come on. How’s this—The Expendables(after a wild, shoot things up opening)have to retrieve some computer stuff from a downed plane in Albania. Once there, they run into bad guy Vilain(Van Damme), who wants to use the computer to obtain a hidden bounty of plutonium. Along the way, bullets fly, bombs are detonated, cars crash, planes narrowly escape, there are mutilations and decapitations—and EVERYONE gets their well-earned comeuppance. And it’s all done with just enough bravado and style to make it all work this time. And although this sequel garnered a little less box office than it’s 2010 incarnation, the foreign tally was a whole lot more, making it a 300 million dollar plus earning international hit. That should tell you one thing quite clearly…”The Expendables 3″ is not far off.        Grade: C+


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