The Expendables 2 – Film Review

Stallone* and his motley crew of ageing masses of muscle start the film on a rescue mission. Guns! Explosions! On their return (after Jet Li parachutes out of the film forever) Bruce Willis sets them the task of collecting a package from a plane crash to settle their debt from the previous film. It is a seemingly simple mission… Guns! Explosions! Having been scuppered by Jean-Claude Van Damme, playing a man called Vilain (I kid you not), the Expendables are off on a revenge mission which will also stop the world from entering into nuclear war. Guns! Explosions!

It would be too easy to let The Expendables 2 off lightly. To pat it on the head for trying to be an old-fashioned action film and for being nothing but fun. The trouble is that the film is neither good nor bad enough to be truly enjoyable and is just stuck in the middle ground of passable mediocrity. The middle ground may well be filled with guns and explosions but even these set pieces never quite ramp up the action enough for The Expendables 2 to really stand out.

While you could never expect a film with such a recognisable, if craggy-faced, cast to ignore the action film heritage onscreen, the constant winks and nods to the actors’ previous films become tiresome. An exchange between Willis and Schwarzenegger in the film’s climactic battle was so cringe-worthy, I was in danger of having the wind change and making me look like Gary Busey forever. And while the funny dialogue made me cringe, the serious emotional speeches had the whole audience laughing. Stallone has a moment of poignancy over a fallen comrade so horribly clumsy, dumb, and clich├ęd that giggles were heard throughout the cinema. We certainly weren’t laughing with you Stallone.

You may look at the extensive cast list for The Expendables 2 and wonder how the script is going to service each and every one of the truck-sized men it contains. The simple solution is that it doesn’t. As I mentioned before Jet Li literally jumps out of the film early on while Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Norris are simply overblown cameos. Arrive, shoot everyone, say something that could pass for wit, and then wander off into the distance. I only wish I were exaggerating. Too many times the core group of Expendables were in a seemingly impossible to escape situation when Cameo #3 would appear, save them all, and leave. It’s just plain lazy.

The Expendables 2 is mercifully brief at just over an hour and a half but that runtime is filled with an unengaging plot, bad dialogue, weak acting, and more potential heart attacks than you’d find at an Alan Dale** character convention. I laughed when I was supposed to cry and cried when I was supposed to laugh – Stallone has messed up my emotions forever. The two stars are because I am slightly scared of most of the cast and the next sentence is likely to make them want to hurt me. The Expendables 2 is as clumsy, cumbersome, bloated, and dumb as its lead actors look.

*Actual character names are too ridiculous and forgettable to bother with
**An obscure but accurate joke

Looper – New Trailers

Looper, the indie sci-fi action thriller about a man contracted to kill his future self sent back from the future, has a second slightly longer UK trailer and a UK poster to boot.

Directed by indie film wunderkind Rian Johnson and starring Bruce Willis alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Bruce Willis’ face Looper has easily become my most anticipated film of 2012. It even comes above Katy Perry: Part Of Me which is saying something.

Oooh trailer!

Ooh posters! (click to see versions larger than you know what to do with)

You may notice a UK mobile phone number written on the door in the poster, I called it and just got the message “calls to this number are barred”. However a trip to www.07153902935.com reveals a viral website featuring a single film still. I expect more will come over time.

UPDATE: There’s a new US trailer now too!

Looper – Teaser

It’s here! It’s finally here!

Looper, the time travel action film from Brick director Rian Johnson starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, finally has its first teaser trailer. From the footage on show it looks like Johnson hasn’t lost the visual flair that made Brick such a memorable debut.

Prepare for me to talk about this film for the rest of the year. Apologies in advance.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I Think You May Be Allergic to Something

Rian Johnson (director of the stylish Brick and the stylish but flawed Brothers Bloom) is soon to be back in cinemas with his third film Looper. In Looper Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an assassin tasked with killing targets sent back from the future – the logic being that if you kill them in the past there’s no victim to be found. One day Gordon-Levitt recognises one of his targets as the future version of himself (as played by Bruce Willis) and plenty of running and jumping ensues.

With Rian Johnson at the helm Looper is sure to have plenty of visual flair and who can resist some time travel based fun? The first trailer will be with us in a few days and over the weekend the first images of Joseph Gordon-Levitt have appeared. Interestingly, he’s wearing prosthetics to make him look more like a younger Bruce Willis. A wise move or a crime against his face?

Click the images below to enlarge.

Looper is out in the UK on 28th September 2012 and had better be amazing or I’ll cry.