Title: The Expendables 2

Director: Simon West (‘Con Air,’ ‘Laura Croft: Tomb Raider’)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Liam Hemsworth and Yu Nan

Releasing a successful, thrilling action movie with popular action actors from the 1980s and ’90s who are largely considered past their prime is difficult undertaking. But when the film surprising includes intense stunts and memorable performances, a sequel is undoubtedly immediately put into the works. When the follow-up film, like the new action sequel ‘The Expendables 2,’ is just as stimulating as the original, the actors prove how talented and valuable they really are.

‘The Expendables 2’ follows Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), the leader of the title mercenary group, leads his members, including his right-hand man, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham); Yin Yang (Jet Li); Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren); Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews); as they’re enlisted by Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to take on a seemingly simple job. The group, who is aided by two new recruits, Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan), must seek revenge, however, when things go wrong and one of their own is killed.

In hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them, the Expendables must shut down an unexpected threat. Jean Vilane (Jean-Claude Van Damme), the leader of an opposing group of mercenaries that’s responsible for the death of one of the Expendables, plans on using five tons of weapons-grade plutonium he recently discovered to change the balance of power in the world. Along with the help of fellow mercenaries Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris), the Expendables aim to stop Jean before he can use the plutonium to his advantage.

Filmmaker Simon West, who signed on to replace Stallone as the director for the sequel to the hit 2010 action adventure thriller ‘The Expendables,’ effortlessly featured the same effects to the follow-up the actor and screenwriter brought to the original film. West, who has made a name for himself helming such action adventure films as ‘Con Air’ and ‘Laura Croft: Tomb Raider,’ included daring and stunning fight sequences between Barney’s Expendables and Jean’s villainous mercenaries. The stunts were once again perfectly tailored to each of the characters’ abilities, including Lee’s intensive knife battles or Yin’s hand-to-hand combat.

The veteran action actors all proved they all still had what it takes to lead another action-intensive film with ‘The Expendables 2.’ Between the natural camaraderie between Stallone, Statham and the rest of the Expendables and their seemingly natural ease with performing the exciting stunts, the film is a natural homage to their earlier classic movies. West also made the right decision in hiring Hemsworth and especially Nan, as the younger characters will undoubtedly help attract younger viewers. Having a strong female presence with Maggie also proved that women can be just as strong willed and fierce as their male counterparts.

While the action, stunts and casting in ‘The Expendables 2’ were all commendable, the film’s dialogue unfortunately at times was a bit cliched and unoriginal. It failed to add any true value to a story-line that was at times lacking in extensive substance and relied heavily on the fight sequences to resolve the conflicts. Stallone and his co-writer, Richard Wenk, should have made some more time working on the relationships and backstories of the characters to make the plot more cohesive and emotional.

West effortlessly took the helming reins from previous ‘Expendables’ director Stallone when making the anticipated follow-up film. He created the same impressive visual stunts in ‘The Expendables 2′ as its predecessor, while focusing on each characters’ fighting skills and physical strengths. Combined with the same natural ease between the actors that the first film had, the sequel proves that this film series captures the same elements that made the actors’ previous franchises’ successful. While the plot isn’t as developed as it could have been, ‘The Expendables 2’ is a high energy, non-stop action film.

Technical: A-

Acting: B

Story: B-

Overall: B

Written by: Karen Benardello

The Expendables 2 Movie Review

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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