Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Expendables 2 Commentary

Director Simon West on the first day of shooting: "OK, Mr Schwarzenegger, before we film, I'm going to need you to stick your finger in this light socket.  Mr van Damme, we're going to pump you so full of Botox that you're going to resemble a Hollywood housewife when you take those sunglasses off.  Mr Norris, you're completely unnecessary in this movie but people seem to still love you so we're going to need you to forget everything you may have ever learned about acting.  Mr Willis, just be as cool as you've ever been.  Mr Li, what are you still doing here?  Everyone else, do exactly what you did in the first one but louder.  And why the hell does Randy Couture keep showing up?"  That pretty much sums up this movie but it is exactly what I was expecting.  The one scene in the church in the first one was an excuse to have a little banter between action legends.  In this one, it's spread out through the whole movie and kind of makes the whole thing suffer a bit.

Action sequels are made good if they take the best parts of the preceding films and build on that while losing the crap.  The Expendables tried to bring in some philosophy and a human element and I think they realized that it just didn't work.  The first one had some morality to it.  This one is just out and out revenge.  They took the action, amped it up, and made a throwback to the mindless action movies of the late 80s and early 90s.  For what it is, they did it very well.  There is a lot of action in this film and the violence level is pretty high (at one point, Stephanie said it was 'a lot of raspberry jam').

Also, they kept some of the banter between Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham that brought good humour to the first one.  Those two work well together.  The problem is that they tried to extend that to any time that any two of Norris, Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis were on screen at the same time.  The references to their places in pop culture and other movies was not needed even if it was almost required by the viewing audience.  What many people will see as a cool and funny line, I just find cheesy.  And that is indicative of the story and writing as a whole.  The story is almost non-existent and the writing is pretty terrible too.  But, as I said, it's a mindless "blow everything to hell" movie so the story is very secondary.

There really isn't anything more to say than that.  Acting and writing are pretty bad, but the action is very good.  It's exactly what you expect and, with that, it entertains.  So turn your brain off and see it.

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