In 2010, experiencing The Expendables on the big screen became the ultimate wet dream for avid fans of action films due to the outstanding ensemble cast of actors, practically are the symbols of the genre, the explosive action and the manliness of it all. Although it met with a mixed critical response, it was not long after the announcement of the sequel in which the majority of the gang would reprise their roles to take another intense adventure with the new action heroes added to the pack. What you see with The Expendables 2 and its predecessor is exactly what you get! It may have quite possibly the most exhilarating, badass and physical action you will ever see, but it still is a rather corny film that could quite easily come across as a guilty pleasure.
In the first film, Sylvester Stallone did an absolutely marvellous job executing the R-rated gun fights and car chases and, thus, making an action fan’s dream come true. However, Stallone did not return as director of The Expendables 2. Questions arose of who could replace him, but whoever that person was would need to be sophisticated enough within the genre to make the sequel. In the end, it was Simon West, director of Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Mechanic, who took the role. Stallone’s predecessor perhaps had a more manliness touch to it but the sequel did have a few unexpected packages. It focused a bit more on the story and dialogue this time. This simply balanced itself more as a normal film rather than a group of guys firing guns at people.
Sylvester Stallone returns to lead the pack as does Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lungdren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture. Seeing the majority of our action heroes all together in a film is, of course, a dream come true, like The Avengers. Practically every single character within The Expendables 2 were not anything for the audience to take seriously seeing as the film as a whole is very simple that serves a very simple purpose. Still, Sylvester Stallone gave a stronger performance than in the predecessor and Jason Statham was not quite as badass as he was before and due to the unusual gags that were added between him and Stallone, it ruined the manliness of the character. Furthermore, Jet Li was hardly involved in this at all which was disappointing and it was great to see fellow Expendables members Dolph Lungdren and Terry Crews, who were the key sources of the humour within this sequel, return in their roles.
New additions to the cast were Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Liam Hemsworth. Norris, whose appearance was more cameo than supporting, returned to his 70s and 80s action status and Van Damme, who was undoubtedly the best actor in the entire film, was more badass than ever as primary antagonist Jean Vilain. The most surprising aspect of characters in The Expendables 2 was Liam Hemsworth’s appearance. He was the most sensitive, natural character but unfortunately, he was not quite as involved within the film as he really could have been. Finally, the icing has been placed on the cake with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger making their presence known more in this sequel. See, this is where the script and every character have their weak spots. Particularly on Schwarzenegger and Norris’s behalf, the jokes are references from previous roles that they’ve played in their own careers.
Overall, The Expendables 2 is a film that is quite literally trapped between a traditional action hit and a parody film. High expectations with a solid story and well-developed characters are totally irrelevant for a film like this as it is generally just meant to be action-packed to blow the audience away. In addition, the two films, regarding amount of action and dialogue, are rather different and it is hard to determine which of the two is better than the other. They both may still consist of very corny stories and characters but the action is at the very highest standard! Therefore, it deserves another sequel because then we will get to see our action heroes return, along with more new ones, engage in explosive armed combat, physical fights and exhilarating car chases once more.