(US - 2012)
Directed by Simon West. Written by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone. Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan, Charisma Carpenter. (R, 102 mins)
When Sylvester Stallone's THE EXPENDABLES was released in 2010, it was hyped as a summit of action stars old and new. That was kinda sorta true, with Stallone and Dolph Lundgren teaming up with relatively younger action heroes like Jason Statham and Jet Li, and other brawny dudes like Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. There were even unbilled cameos by Bruce Willis and then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But while it's always nice to see Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts on the big screen, they really didn't gel with the "action hero" angle, and we should still be thankful that 50 Cent had the decency to drop out shortly before filming began. THE EXPENDABLES was an enjoyable throwback to big, dumb '80s action movies, but it needed more aging icons of that decade to really accomplish its goal. Bigger and better in every way, THE EXPENDABLES 2 corrects those errors and for any fan of the aforementioned Big Dumb '80s Action, it's one of the best times you'll have at a movie this year.
THE EXPENDABLES seems to have given rise to this sort-of nostalgia trip for aging action stars on the big screen. Sure, we've got Van Damme, Adkins, and Steven Seagal (if there's an EXPENDABLES 3, he and AMERICAN NINJA's Michael Dudikoff need to be in it) doing their thing in DTV work, but these kinds of movies rarely get wide theatrical releases anymore. In addition to this, in the coming months, we've got Stallone in Walter Hill's BULLET TO THE HEAD, Schwarzenegger in THE LAST STAND, and the two team up again in the prison thriller THE TOMB, due out in spring 2013. The torch appears to have been passed to Statham, who may indeed be the Last Action Hero, but neither Stallone nor Schwarzenegger seem to be ready to call it a career. And yeah, we can make jokes about their age and their facelifts (a lot of Stallone's close-ups here seem to be shot through ABC's Barbara Walters/Diane Sawyer lens filter), and sure, they've made their share of crappy movies, but you know what? They're damn good at what they do, they've still got it, and we're gonna miss them when they're gone. THE EXPENDABLES 2 is a blast.