Lionsgate // 2012 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 27th, 2012
Crash. Boom. Bang.
The first Expendables film raked in major box office bucks, proving old '80s action stars never die, they just make movies that feature more of their contemporaries. Sylvester Stallone has gone back to the well once more, relinquishing the directorial reigns to Simon West (Con Air) for The Expendables 2, featuring more muscles than you can shake a barbell at. The Expendables 2 is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Your favorite teeth gnashing, gun-toting, bicep-flexing mercenaries are back! Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone, Rocky), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham, Crank), Yin Yang (Jet Li, Lethal Weapon 4), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren, Masters of the Universe), Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator), Mr. Church (Bruce Willis, Die Hard), and more are back to kick your butt from here to Albuquerque, avenging the death of one of their own. When a young newcomer (Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games), taken under the wing of Barmey, is killed by the sadistic Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme, JCVD), the group sets out to avenge his death and, I dunno, probably save the world in one way or another. Do you really care? There are LOTS of explosions, gunfire, spurting blood, and salty language.
If that doesn't ring your bell, nothing will.
To use a musical analogy, if The Expendables was a super group's greatest hits compilation, The Expendables 2 is some massive career-spanning box set with everything under the sun jammed inside. The film is violent, ungainly, and indifferent to human life, an all-out blood-soaked celebration of mayhem and anarchy. People's heads are torn from their shoulders. Men chew on cigars while ogling hot women. Bombs explode, gunfire is exchanged, and the entire 103 minute experience is pure destruction from the opening credits to the final showdown.
It's also an absolute hoot.
The Expendables 2 includes just about every mother-humpin' action star ever to grace the silver screen -- Schwarzenegger, Willis, Stallone, Norris, Van Damme, Lundgren, Statham, Li, Crews. if they forgot to include someone, I can't imagine who that is. I love that most of these actors don't appear to have been invited, because they fit well into the plot. Clearly the script was written so Chuck Norris could show up and play, well...Chuck Norris. The movie wouldn't have been much different had Jean-Claude Van Damme NOT played the requisite villain, but good God it's a lot better because of it.
This is the sort of movie where gorilla mercenaries chase down a motor boating airplane (complete with complimentary jet skies) just before the it shoots a giant missile into a dock holding dozens upon dozens of soldiers, blowin' everything and everyone up real good. There is no subtlety in The Expendables 2, nor do audiences want it. This isn't Gone with the Wind we're talking about. Heck, it isn't even Gone in 60 Seconds. This is pure male testosterone slapped onscreen for your massive enjoyment. I'm surprised the Blu-ray didn't come packaged with a stripper and a six pack of Bud Light.
How is the acting, you ask? Well, you can't really criticize performances in a film like The Expendables 2 because everyone on board is playing either a complete cartoon character or a bigger-than-life version of their already bigger-than-life personalities. There are seemingly dozens of references to these actors previous films. Almost every ounce of dialogue is either a snide witticism or a scowling declaration of revenge. Face it, this is the action movie every underage boy wants to sneak into. In fact, I mentioned it to my fourteen year old nephew and his head nearly exploded with excitement.
Director Simon West does a commendable job wrangling in the chaos just enough to allow for comprehension. The screenplay (co-written by Stallone) isn't anything original. Then again, originality isn't really the point here. Any sequence that doesn't feature someone getting their face blown off by a high powered explosion is just a way station for scenes that do involve faces getting blown off and high powered explosions. Dialogue is merely filler so we can see Arnold leaping away from a fireball or Stallone mowing down a row of soldiers with an uzi.
Look, part of me wants to scoff at The Expendables 2. I did my hardest to roll my eyes, but a funny thing happened. There's a scene where Schwarzenegger and Willis jump out of the way of flying bullets as they exchange dialogue about Rambo, just as Stallone runs in guns blazing, Chuck Norris kicks some ass, and Jean Claude Van Damme saunters in just like Van Damme should. Well, at that point, my brain basically melted down and turned to Jello. From there on, I gave in and decided to fall in love with The Expendables 2.
Presented in 2.40:1/1080p high definition widescreen in 1080p high definition, the picture on The Expendables 2 (Blu-ray) is quite good. I was a bit skeptical when the first few minutes seemed slightly hazy, but the rest of the film is exceptionally clear with deep black levels and well saturated colors -- even if they look slightly muted, in a directorially-decided color-corrected kind of way.
The DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix is absolutely top notch. The Expendables 2 is a movie filled with a ton of directional effects and surround moments and this sonically aggressive track is a perfect match for the big brawny visuals. Also included on this disc is one of the first Neo X 11.1 mixes (very few audiophiles even have the system capabilities to decode this), a Dolby 5.1 Surround track in Spanish, a Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix in English, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.
Bonus features include an audio commentary by director Simon West; a few good featurettes on the cast, weaponry, and real-life mercenaries who inspired the film ("Gods of War: Assembling Earth's Mightiest Anti-Heroes," "Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980s and the Rise of the Action Film," "On the Assault: The Real Life Weaponry of The Expendables 2," "Guns for Hire: Real Life Expendables"); a few deleted scenes; a mildly amusing gag reel; and an UltraViolet digital download for your portable device.
The Expendables 2 has everything a man could want, coming very close to being the perfect guy experience.
Awesomely awesome awesomeness. Not Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* UltraViolet Download