“Get the $5 million from the safe and bring it to me, then we’ll be square,” says Church (Bruce Willis) to Barney (Sylvester Stallone). Church’s money went down in a plane crash somewhere in Eastern Europe. But bad guy Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his gang of thugs confront Barney and his motley crew (“nothing but a gang of psychotics,” says Church) as they seek the safe. Vilain threatens to kill Barney’s young friend Billy (Liam Hemsworth). Violent war between the gangs ensues, with massive collateral damage from assault weapons and property destruction from large explosions. Get past all of that and “Expendables” might be entertaining in a mindless sort of way.
Do Vilain and his posse steal the plutonium from a Bulgarian mine? What will they do with it? Will Barney and his crew get revenge for their humiliation? Are Stallone and his pals planning “Expendables 3”?
At the end of the story, Willis gives Stallone a restored vintage plane. “It belongs in a museum,” someone says. “We all do,” says Stallone, in the film’s exit line. He might be right. Beside Stallone (Barney), Willis (Church) and Van Damme (Vilain), the cast includes Arnold Schwartzenegger (Trench), Dolph Lundgren (Gunner), Jason Stratham (Lee), and Chuck Norris (Booker) — all eligible to join AARP. Each has a specialty or quirk defining his character. Stallone is the boss; Willis puts up the money; Van Damme is the villain; Schwartzenegger quotes himself from other movies (“I’m back,” he says); Lundgren (maybe) knows explosives; Stratham is hopelessly in love; Norris is a lone-wolf sharp-shooter. Others in the cast have specialties, too. Liam Hemsworth plays young Billy, Afghanistan vet who wants to settle down. Terry Crews is Hale Caesar. He’s a gourmet cook, even on a hot plate. Nan Yu is Maggie, Church’s girl friend and a safe-cracker.
The cast also includes Jet Li as Yin Yang, Randy Couture as Toll Road, and Scott Atkins as Hector. Tough guys — and a tough gal.
“The Expendables 2” is a big, dumb action movie, full of sound and fury, signifying not much. Simon West directs. Richard Wenk, Stallone, Ken Kaufman and David Agosto wrote this sequel from characters created by David Callahan for “The Expendables” (2010). Male bonding is what this flick is about. “Respect,” as in this exchange between Stallone and Hemsworth, seems to be a code word: “You got my respect,” says Stallone. “You got mine, too,” says Hemsworth. Even bad guy Van Damme respects good guy Stallone: “Respect is everything,” Van Damme says, “We’re both fighting men, and I respect that.”
Rated R for pervasive strong, bloody violence, the film runs 102 minutes. See it if you must.
A big, dumb action movie,
“The Expendables 2” —
Is violent, mindless, loud —
See it? That’s up to you.