The Expendables 2 (2012)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 8/17/12
Director: Simon West
Music: Brian Tyler
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Yu Nan, Liam Hemsworth, Jean Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Charisma Carpenter

"Track 'em, find 'em, kill 'em."

That about sums it up. The "male pattern badness" guys are at it again, with a truly unbelievable cast and a mind-numbing display of blood splattering gun porn violence. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis get extended cameos and Chuck Norris nearly steals the show with his tongue-in-cheek appearance. Jean Claude Van Damme makes a fabulous villain and brings a surprising amount of charm to the screen. Seeing all of these people together is truly surreal, and nostalgia runs high. The story is simple: Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) sends Barney Ross's (Sylvester Stallone) mercenary team to Albania to retrieve some precious cargo from a downed plane, with the aid of newcomer Maggie (Yu Nan). Unfortunately, a man named Vilain (Jean Claude Van Damme) is waiting for them and steals the package. And no, I'm not kidding. The villain's name is actually Vilain. Hell bent on revenge, Barney decides to track the bastard down and kill him.

As expected, the film is big, loud, and stupid, and the outrageous violence is deliriously enjoyable. The hand-to-hand combat seems much better this time around and both Jason Statham and Jet Li get into some enjoyable fights. Unfortunately, Li bows out of the film early, but at least it looks like him instead of a double this time around. Statham gets in some good knife fighting, while Stallone and Van Damme brutally beat each other senseless. Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Norris just conveniently show up, all guns blazing. While Norris's cameo is hilarious, he doesn't actually do anything and his delivery is rather stiff. He's also really creepy looking. What happened to his face? Is that makeup, cosmetic surgery, or post production trying to make him look younger? I found it really disturbing. The locations are fabulous and the explosions are delightful. Naturally, the dialog is awkward and groan worthy, with Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Stallone all making fun of their various pedigrees. In the end it accomplishes everything it set out to do, and the result is a wonderful slice of mindless action film history.