Aug 24 2012 By Gerry Fitzsimmons
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Director: Simon West Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, Terry Crews
AFTER a rather bloated and wheezing attempt at directing The Expendables I, Sly Stallone has exchanged megaphone for hand cannon and stepped aside to let Simon West direct a swashbuckling, oily bicep flexing and brilliantly moronic piece of cinema-grade plutonium in The Expendables 2.
The immense cast reads like a who’s who of geriatric Hollywood has-beens. The absurd plot hangs precariously like the reconstructed faces of its ageing heros in that at any minute you expect the whole mess to fall apart. And with West’s evident talent and ability to successfully ‘carve a turkey’ it’s a shame he wasn’t involved in some of the cast's cosmetic surgery.
However, expressionless, dead eyed physiognomy aside, Stallone heads up an ensemble whose mission, should they choose to accept it, is to evoke a foolish grin from the supple features of any comrade willing to buy into the 90 minutes of stupefying cheddar that is The Expendables sequel.
Ready, willing and able were the hundred or so patrons at this early screening at Glasgow’s Cineworld which made for even greater enjoyment as each member of the audience seemed to find humour in a different part of a script so fabulously hammy it could be dry-cured in Northern Italy and wrapped around slender fingers of cantaloupe melon.
What’s particularly appetising about the most recent roid-romp is the refreshing tone set by a group of egomaniacs perfectly happy to humiliate themselves for one (or two) last pay checks. The manner in which each star’s back catalogue is referenced with ridicule is sublime and the timing and context of the cameo appearances is masterful, with one performance in particular leaving neck hairs erect throughout the theatre.
It wouldn’t be fair to spoil the moment but rumour has it that when Chuck Norris squints, baby rabbits explode and on the evidence of this cameo local authorities and farmers struggling to moderate bunny numbers in Scotland could use his stealthy expertise.
The reason for The Expendables 2’s success is not dissimilar to that of its hero cast insofar as it knows what it is - bloated, shambolic, pathetic, bullish, gory, hideous, sensitive and heartfelt all at once. It’s an ode to the golden age of brutal, beefcake blockbusters - films the hundred or so inside the cinema that afternoon unashamedly paid their final respects to.
War Heroes – Chuck Norris. Fantastic, comedy gore. The cast. Chuck Norris. The corny level of camped up buddy love. The line ‘Man and knife’. The line ‘d’you know how to carve a turkey?’ Chuck Norris.
War Criminals – Could perhaps have taken a leaf from the Naked Gun series and gone full-tilt spoof, but hey, these guys are real actors!