BY MICHAEL GUTSCHE
“The Expendables 2” is an aggressively okay movie. It’s not good, but it’s not awful either, which makes it the worst kind of blockbuster: forgettable.
It follows a slightly revised cast of the first film, a group of mercenaries, brought back together to do another “easy” job by a CIA agent known as Church.
Things go wrong, one of them dies, they swear revenge and then the movie turns into a bunch of old action stars as they faff about “behind enemy lines,” shoot up half of Russia and blow up another third.
It should be conceded that at least the movie is fairly explicit about what the viewer is going to get out of it.
Whether that is something worthwhile is up for debate, and while it isn’t terrible, it certainly isn’t the best giant-cast explosion extravaganza in the last year.
Technically, the movie is mediocre-to-good. The shots and composition are sub-par at worst, but occasionally fine, despite having a relatively bland color palette, things still manage to be obscured an unfortunate amount.
The writing is simultaneously trite and convoluted. The score is lacking. However, theoretically, neither of those things would be important to a movie like this. The action and pacing are underwhelming, which is unfortunate since these are probably the two most important elements in an action movie.
Like the previous film in the probably-going-to-be-a-franchise, it pokes fun at the kind of ridiculous action blockbusters that got started in Hollywood about twenty years ago, and it does so in a way that might work: by using the same actors that star in those sorts of movies.
It should work, but it really doesn’t. This movie is aiming to simultaneously satirize and memorialize these sort of movies. To act in a send-up of themselves is an admirable thing for these actors, but they don’t deliver something that’s actually worth watching.
Unlike, for example, “Shoot Em Up,” which satirizes action movies by deconstructing the genre, “The Expendables 2” makes tired jokes and blunt observations about these sorts of films, and while there are pieces that work, it does not achieve any real greatness. Mediocrity remains the word of choice. Maybe wait for the DVD release, rent it and watch it with a crowd at some kind of informal gathering.
Rating: 2 stars