Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

The Expendables 2

30 August 2012 by Nicholas in Films

The Expendables 2 is more of the same, with everything that that entails. To explain how I feel about it will require a lot of digressing and pop culture references, thereby infusing the film with subtext and depth it definitely lacks in, and of, itself.

I saw Ghost Rider 1 and 2. After seeing Ghost Rider 1 and deciding it was one of the very worst films I had ever seen, I somehow still saw the second film. Now, I know the second film features large differences and isn’t really a straight sequel, but the omens were not particularly good for the film.

After seeing Expendables I decided it was a very bad film that had been made about 25 years too late and decided I would never watch it again. However, I did see it again. Only an even dumber and less good version of it. It was called Expendables 2.

Expendables 2 is a film that is nearly completely devoid of (intentional) humour or irony. It features old men who were best suited to this kind of film 20 or more years ago walking round shooting things. Direct to video and failed TV series experts rub shoulders with men who look like steroid abuse has brought about strokes and younger actors either phoning it in or faintly embarrassed to be there. The only person deserving of a.ny credit whatsoever is Bruce Willis, as he at least seems to realise how ridiculous it all is

There is an old Mary Whitehouse Experience sketch about how you can tell which character is going to die in a war film. To actually adhere to it in a film made post 1960 without any sense of irony? Oh dear.

When I was about ten I read reprints of Marvel’s the ‘Nam, which was actually better than I realised at the time. In one Michael Golden illustrated segment one of the main characters (who actually dies adhering to the rules of war films) comments on how a John Wayne film was utterly ridiculous because none of the characters have any cover in a gun fight and they would all be killed. In pretty much every scene I was reminded of this. Every single shot a hero makes despatches a baddie. Every single shot a baddie makes misses, even when the heroes are walking down the street with no cover and ambling along because of their geriatric hips.

That’s not even the worst of it, though. In nearly every single action set piece the climax is brought about by someone previously not involved with the events suddenly appearing to aid the heroes. One character exists only to appear at opportune moments, save the day, and leave. It just adds an extra layer of unintentional ridiculousness to the whole film.

And Simon West, the director, is not getting any better. The action isn’t particularly exciting and he doesn’t manage to coax a good performance out of everyone. I’m not sure if he just gave up or it was beyond him to begin with.