Summer 2012’s shamelessly self-aware action blockbuster has arrived and is everything that I expected from the original. The first Expendables wasn’t bad (after all, it inspired The Essentials, so it shall forever hold a special place in my heart), but it staked a pretty bold claim, at least idealistically / philosophically / thematically / whatever you want to call it. They sold it on a trailer with Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis in the same scene. Unfortunately, as many of you can probably recall, that was just one scene. But now they actually have supporting roles and tag along for some of the action. Chuck Norris is a welcome addition, but the real stand-out for me was Jean-Claude Van Damme. I certainly knew who he was, but I must admit, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of his movies. Now I’m compelled to. Granted, I already have a very long queue of films to see, but I’ll sneak him in there somewhere. Please, suggest some good ones!
Stallone helped Write this one, but he passed on Directing… perhaps a call for the better. I hate to keep comparing films to their predecessors, but since we live in the age of sequels, I think it’s warranted (if not outright obligated). At times the original seemed to take itself seriously, if only to some brief extent; a decision that gave me strange vibes in a movie otherwise filled with entertaining ridiculousness. Maybe we can just blame it on the Classic Three Act Structure of modern cinema. Either way, they dodge that bullet pretty well this time and the film is far better because of it. Granted… a few unfunny line deliveries should have been cut, the text on the tank was dumb, and if you’ve watched the official trailer recently then ALL of the big surprises can be seen coming a mile away. I seriously cannot express this enough: DO NOT RE-WATCH THE TRAILER! You know what the movie is about and exactly who is going to show up… just go see it and have fun.
Although, I must say, anything dumb or lame about the movie is instantly redeemed when Van Damme kicks someone for the first time. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. I instantly jumped up in my chair and yelled DAMME! (pun?) Definitely my favorite moment. I now see The Expendables as a feature length teaser for The Expendables 2… and I can’t wait for 3. After all, we haven’t seen Steven Seagal or his black pajamas in years. My gut also tells me that William Shatner will show up, or maybe… just maybe… Harrison Ford.
VERDICT: Nagle Seal of Approval
Lastly, if some of you see any deep irony in my own personal critique of the original Expendables… rest assured that I see it as well and will continue to learn along the way.