The Expendables 2 is a dumb movie. It wears its stupidity like a badge (a badge covered in skulls and guns) as viewers take in a steady stream of one-liners and explosions. The recipe for this movie is simple, just a mix of action stars from yesterday and tomorrow combined with as many action movie clichés as possible and topped off with a healthy dose of self-awareness. The Expendables 2 is a ton of fun as long as you don’t make the mistake of taking it seriously.
The first Expendables was a marginally more serious affair, with the star cameos kept small and mostly focusing on Stallone and Statham. Even the rest of the Expendables crew only gets a couple of scenes to show off. Despite the greater number and size of the cameos in Expendables 2, there is actually more for the crew to do. For a movie as much about its star cameos as anything, Expendables 2 does a marvelous job of working them seamlessly into the film. Each of the star characters has a reason to be there and at least the ghost of reason to be so chummy with each other. The only thing is that the usual banter is replaced with joked about their old one-liners. By the time Schwarzenegger and Willis finally get in on the action it is so gleefully fun you don’t even care that they steal the scene from the real characters.
The cameos are easy to implement because the plot is so basic. A supposedly easy mission goes badly and Stallone and crew seek revenge. That is pretty much it. It is simple, but it works, except for one thing. There is never any sense that the villains poser any threat to the heroes. As fun as Van Damme chewing scenery as Vilain is, he doesn’t seem to be that much of a threat to the team. The movie does such a good job of making the team seem like badasses that they completely overshadow the bad guys.
The Expendables 2 cold opening is some of the most perfect action violence that it is amazing the rest of the movie doesn’t feel like a letdown. If you are not enjoying the movie once the title rolls, you might as well leave. The Expendables 2 is about as far from art or thought as you get, but it is a blast. It is a greatest hits album of a movie, all your favorites but nothing new. If the movie took it seriously at all it would be hard to watch, but it is in on the joke as much as the audience. The Expendables 2 is a fun bit of filler.