REVIEW: The Expendables 2

"Bigger, badder and enough action to satisfy fans of all generations."

Barney and his crew are back and after their exploits in the first film, Mr. Church feels they owe him and has come to collect via a mission.  When this mission goes sour and they lose one of their own, Barney becomes dead set on revenge.

Say what you will about THE EXPENDABLES, but I loved it.  No, it wasn't a symphony of well orchestrated music by any stretch of the imagination, nor did some aspects of it make sense, but it was a no holds barred, no remorse, ass kicking hell of a good time.  The action genre needed this film to kick start the apocalypse and I was looking forward to the "boom".  This new installment is no exception, aside from a bigger budget, bigger cast and bigger set of cojones.  This fact is immediately noticeable as the boys open up with a full blown assault on some baddies, racking up a body count for the books I'm sure.  I had a wide smile on my face when they smoke cleared and dude the bad guys were interrogating was revealed (he had a bag over his head up to this point).

As far as muscle goes I dug the addition of Liam Hemsworth and although many gave his "speech" flack because of the dog mention, I didn't mind it and felt it went hand in hand with his character.  I liked the father/son bond he and Sly shared, and it nearly made me tear up a couple times in light of Sly's real life loss he suffered here not long ago.  I wasn't at all happy with Jet Li's early exit of the film, I guess it made sense in context of the mission, but I didn't care for it--no Li is no good.  Dolph hams it up here something awful, to the point of him almost coming off as goofy, but he's a welcome addition to the team.  I can't say the same for Randy Couture who I still feel doesn't belong.  Terry Crews gets a line here and there but is sorely underused, whereas Sly and Christmas still have the chemistry of life long friends and are truly the heart of the team.

Bruce Willis doesn't come off as strong this time as he did last time, but Church doesn't overstay his welcome here.  I loved the way Chuck Norris was introduced and used, they were going for tongue in cheek and it played out marvelously (the cobra bit was priceless).  I wish I could say the same for Arney, but I can't.  Congress put some noticeable miles on the guy, and as much as he still is a hero of mine, he felt and looked off.  I knew he'd be saying "I'm back" from the trailers, but seriously people, once was enough, the third time was like Freddy Krueger nails on a chalkboard which is anything but funny.  Nan Yu added some much needed estrogen to the scene, but it's painfully obvious that this was indeed her main reason for being on board.  "Needed" is not an adjective I'd use to describe her presence.  And what the hell happened to Mickey Rourke?

The real show stopper here was on the Vilain side, with Jean-Claude Van Damme's return to the big screen.  I'm a Van Damme fan through and through.  When I was growing up in his prime, I would cut out the coming attraction picture of his movie from the paper and tape it to the fridge in anticipation for the weekend.  It's been far too long since Van Damme's been on the big screen and I sincerely hope Hollywood feels the same.  I'm not fond of the lame "name game" they had going on with his character, but his badassery was writing loads of checks that were all good in my book.  The showdown between him and Sly was both worthy of praise and admission.  Scott Adkins (one of my absolute favorite martial artists--and one of the deadly dudes on the planet) was also a welcome addition to the mix. I loved the instant rivalry between him and Christmas, I only wish their end battle had been as exciting as Sly's.  I get it of course, you can't have their fight outshine the final one but it still felt rushed and not nearly as satisfying.

THE EXPENDABLES 2 does exactly what it sets out to do, capitalize on a dying genre with loads of action, muscle and testosterone.  No complains there.  I will say this about the violence though, those rumors about it being shot in PG-13 and R seem to have credence as the blood was obviously CGI added after the fact and a lack of language implies that perhaps Chuck Norris got his way after all.  Does this hurt the overall experience, not really, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't noticeable.  My biggest complaint is that this would've been such a bigger and badder concept a decade ago when these guys' prowess was more visceral.  The debate of why this never happened would take us years to tackle, but the action junky in me who loves these guys can't help but pose the question (with a tear in my eye).  That said, this flick does the first one justice, does the characters justice and gives the fans exactly what we wanted to see.  At the end of the day, you can't ask for much more from Hollywood. EXPENDABLES 3?  Yes, please. 


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TRAILER: Bullet to the Head

For anyone thinking that THE EXPENDABLES and RAMBO are all Sly's got left up his sleeve, think again. This flick has the swagger of ASSASSINS (which I loved) but a much more serious tone. And is it me, or does Sly age like wine because he's awfully damn impressive and clearly still got miles of game. I'll be first in line for this bad boy.

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GAME TRAILER: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

The trailer a few months back sold me, but this release trailer is pure gold and I have no doubts in their tagline "This is a must have for Transformer fans". Count me in baby, count me in. Like most fans, this is the Transformers game I've been waiting for.

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TRAILER: Dexter S7

We had a small teaser on here a couple weeks ago but now we've got the real deal and Dexter is looking like he's in for one hell of a season. They're really pushing a final conflict between Deb and Dex but I'm not so sure I'm believing it at this point. It sure is a clever way to beef up the tension though.

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TRAILER: Red Dawn

I love a lot of the old school flicks from this genre, but for some reason I never clicked with the original RED DAWN...at all. Now this RED DAWN is a different story altogether. I don't know if the marketing end of things did this on purpose, but I'm happy to see this film was delayed from it's original opening so that now Chris Hemsworth has THOR and THE AVENGERS under his belt giving him more leading man credibility. I'm not much for remakes but this looks like a stellar flick.

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Paranormal Activity 4

Sigh. I don't get why they're still milking this cow but I'm thinking the milk's been bad awhile now. Yes, you struck gold the first time. It was new, it was cool and it shocked audiences. Of course they were going to try again, I can understand that too, but the third time was not a charm and four's getting a bit crowded. God I hate Hollywood sometimes.

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TRAILER: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

I love the animated Batman flicks, they always pack a good edge and a decent punch (where's Kevin Conroy and why isn't he voicing the Bat). I love this concept, a ten year hiatus, an old Batman who's outmatched but goes out anyway. I don't care for Robin at all, but a Robin/Hitgirl montage may be a good thing. Either way, looking forward to this one.

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TRAILER: Skyfall

I remember thinking the Pierce Brosnan James Bond flicks were pretty good (there were a couple stinkers but all in all), that is until Daniel Craig hit the spotlight. His reinvention of Bond is a masterpiece and really made me love the character again. SKYFALL looks fantastic in every way and I personally can't wait to see it.

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