I scored a used Blu Ray copy of THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012) for four bucks at a thrift store the other day. I figured I'd take a chance on this one at that price.
For the record, this is the only EXPENDABLES film I've seen. I have not seen EXPENDABLES 1 and EXPENDABLES 3 and I doubt I will. I think one iteration of this franchise is enough for me. However, I still think it would be cool if, following the Kelly Greene/Frank Campbell rule of third sequels that EXPENDABLES 3 be entitled EXPENDABLES WALK AMONG US. Just saying.
You're probably aware of the basic premise of this series. Over-the-hill action stars from the '80s are back in business as a team of professional mercenaries. There are some new faces mixed in with the old and that's where I have a bit of a problem. These guys I know: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. These guys I don't: Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan (the first female member of the team).
The film starts with a bang with an extended action sequence that's like the opening of a James Bond film on steroids. The action just goes on and on. The Expendables attack the fortress of an Asian warlord in an attempt to free a hostage and in the process, pretty much kill everything that moves. The whole thing plays out like an issue of SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS turned up to 11. Their mission completed, Jet Li disappears from the team (and the rest of the film).
There follows some relatively quiet, character development scenes which are soon interrupted by Bruce Willis as a shady government operative who sends Stallone (with a droopy face that rivals Robert Mitchum's mug) and his boys (along with Yu Nan) on a dangerous mission.
An Expendable gets killed early during the mission which makes it personal for these meat heads. Several action set pieces ensue with a terrific tongue-in-cheek, self-referential appearance by Chuck Norris in one sequence. Things come to a bullet strewn climax with a shoot out in a Russian airport (where did that come from?) and a final fight to the death between puffy lipped Stallone and dead eyed Van Damme.
THE EXPENDABLES is a fun, fast paced, action packed movie that never takes itself seriously and neither should you. There's enough sly wink-wink nod-nods to the past screen personas of the major actors to make a fan of '80s action films smile and chuckle. Thousands of rounds of ammunition are expended in gun battles, there's some nifty martial arts fight scenes and things blow up real good. What more could you want?