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Expendables 2, The (DQ)


Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Yu Nan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Liam Hemsworth, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Amanda Ooms, Charisma Carpenter, Scott Adkins

Director: Simon West

Business as usual for the martial arts heroes of yore, cunningly re-assembled as the Expendables, mercenaries who take on any worldwide assignment as long as it's for the good guys.

After blasting apart half of Nepal (and its population), Barney (Stallone) and his crew - Statham, Lundgren, Crews and Couture, with Hemsworth thrown in this time for the younger audience - are sent by boss Willis to Outer Bulgaria to retrieve the mysterious contents of a safe which lies in a crashed plane.

Jet Li literally parachutes out of the franchise early on, but eastern influence in maintained in the form of Yu Nan as Maggie, who knows the safe's combination(s).

Once on site, though, the Es are quickly trapped by a cartel-for-hire headed by Vilain (Van Damme), though why he doesn't kill them all on the spot is a mystery only the scriptwriters can explain.

Full of intentionally and unintentionally funny lines and jokey dialogue, the film occasionally suffers from Stallone's more solemn moments - 'Why is it,' he philosophises, 'that those who want to live, and deserve to live the most, die, while those who deserve to die keep on living?' (to keep the franchise going, of course) - which prove a morose and faintly risible drag. But most of the movie is one continuous blast of machine-gun fire, kung fu and knife fights (an excellent one between Statham and Adkins highlights the climactic action), with bigger roles this time for Schwarzenegger and Willis, and a hilarious cameo from a well-preserved Norris, who admits to being 'occasionally known as Lone Wolf.'

Schwarzenegger inevitably gets to say 'I'll be back' ("You've been back too many times,' growls Willis) and even gets to drop in a note of dry humour. 'That thing,' snarls Stallone, looking at the airplane/crate his bosses have given him, 'belongs in a museum.' 'Ah,' sighs Arnie. 'We all do.' Can we doubt, though, that they'll be back?

David Quinlan

USA/Bulgaria/Slovakia 2012. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Technicolor/Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 13 Aug 2012