Friday, August 17, 2012

'Expendables 2' raises the bar on silliness - Detroit Free Press

Of course, "The Expendables 2" is all good fun and games and recycled catchphrases. Until somebody gets hurt. A lot of somebodies.

When you're filling the screen with most every big-screen action star of the past 25 years and every one of them needs his own body count, you see the problem. "Expendables 2" is a too-cute trip down Action Film Memory Lane and has one past-his-expiration-date action hero too many for its own good.

Still, it holds together, more or less, right up until the moment when Chuck Norris and his dyed beard make their preposterous appearance. The arrival of Norris lowers the bar on stupid for the rest of the picture.

Sylvester Stallone and his team bring their soldier-for-hire thing to Nepal, Albania and environs this time around. There's a debt to be paid to the spy boss (Bruce Willis), who has one more assignment for this "little gang of psychotic mutts." And there's a Belgian-accented heavy (Jean Claude Van Damme), all sunglasses and big knives and a high kick waiting to happen.

The expendable mercenaries -- Stallone, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren -- avenge their own. When somebody in their ranks dies, Stallone has three things to say about the bad guy who did this: "Track 'em. Find 'em. Kill 'em."

Liam Hemsworth is a sniper who joins the crew, and Maggie (Nan Yu) is the "weapons-proficient" expert brought along for the ride.

The action plays out like a Road Runner cartoon. Director Simon West ("Con Air") doesn't bother explaining how this or that character shows up, how boats and planes magically appear and how a plane crash into a mountain is supposed to be survivable. Bugs, Daffy, Elmer and the Coyote just get up, dust off and hop back into action.

Norris' entrance is no sillier than anything else in the movie, but his arrival seems to signal the moment when screenwriters, director, cast and crew just threw up their hands, laughed and said, "What the hey?"

That's fitting because that's the arc that the careers of these actors have taken. Serious action pictures, followed by performances that turned into caricatures, followed at last by movies that are one big muscle-bound joke.

More Details: 'The Expendables 2'


out of four stars

Rated R; strong and bloody violence

1 hour, 42 minutes

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