Terry Malloy Says EXPENDABLES 2 Owes Much To Its Belgian “Villain”!!
What’s up, Contenders? Terry Malloy here reporting live from the Waterfront.
As I’ve been writing the You. Not. Expendable. Column here at AICN, I’ve been saturating myself in testosterone in order to properly prepare for THE EXPENDABLES 2. Was all that immersion worth it? Well, of course it was, because watching dozens of action films all summer is really a vision of heaven for this guy. Not only that, but I also got to see THE EXPENDABLES 2 in the greatest way imaginable: In a packed theater at The Alamo Drafthouse following a trilogy of Van Damme films at an event dubbed Van Dammage.
So how was the film ultimately? Well, I dig it. And I dig it more than the first film, which I’ll get to in a moment. But I detect a serious flaw in the foundation of THE EXPENDABLES franchise. Both of THE EXPENDABLES films have such an enormous cast of characters, that they suffer quite a bit in the “making sense” department. Characters in THE EXPENDABLES 2 drop in and out of the storyline with abandon. There is so much winking going on here that some characters almost need an eyepatch. And by “some characters” I mean Arnold Schwarzenegger. But I’m down with winking. How much you love or hate THE EXPENDABLES 2 is directly proportional to how much audience pandering you can handle.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re all going to see THE EXPENDABLES 2 in order to see the massive cast do damage together on the same screen. We want the heroes of old to unite, assemble, kick ass, and chew bubble gum. But getting them all there takes so much maneuvering and shoehorning that a streamlined and killer screenplay becomes an impossibility. THE EXPENDABLES 2 is a far cry from the lean and mean THE RAID: REDEMPTION. But it sacrifices the ability to claim any kind of leanness by its premise alone. THE EXPENDABLES is literally founded upon excess.
So we really aren’t even discussing whether THE EXPENDABLES 2 is a good film on any legitimate level, because it’s bloated cast essentially precludes that possibility. We really just want to know if it delivers on its premise, and I’m going to have to say ABSOLUTELY! There are enough set pieces, one liners, and action beats to keep any self respecting 1980s action junkie engaged. Let me highlight a few of the moments that really worked for me.
The Opening Sequence: Dear God! Bad use of CGI blood and helicopters aside, the opening sequence of THE EXPENDABLES 2 alone has more mayhem and gore than all of THE EXPENDABLES’ runtime. If you think I’m exaggerating, go see this thing before you judge. My favorite aspect of this opening sequence was the use of a little vehicular manslaughter. The team put together some George Miller-esque kinds of battering ram trucks and it added a completely fresh element to the standard run and gun raids we see in so many mercenary films. I was on the edge of my seat and ready to forgive every instance of bad CGI because of the sheer audacity of what I was seeing before my eyes. If the film had kept up a pace like that, we’d be talking about THE EXPENDABLES 2 in the same breath as some of its 1980s ancestors. But the pace does slow.
The Money Shot: At the start of the third act, there is a moment where a frosted pane of glass is shattered by gunfire. It crumbles to reveal Arnold, Stallone, and Bruce Willis. Together. Guns blazing. It is the moment we’ve all been waiting for and it is an image that pretty much makes the entire experiment that is THE EXPENDABLES franchise worthwhile. It is almost Biblical: When Arnold, Sly and Bruce are for you, who can stand against you? Well, let me get to that.
Jean-Claude Van Damme: Crappy love story and and heavy-handed exposition plagued THE EXPENDABLES. Those things I can live with! But my only legitimate gripe that killed some of the fun of the first film was its lack of a good villain. I guess setting up so many heroes left little time for a creative threat in the first film. Lay those concerns aside, friends, because JCVD is here to show us how it is done. Van Damme glides through this movie like some kind of spirit of cockiness. I loved him. The character is so one dimensional that his name is literally Vilain. But Van Damme inhabits this guy and poses a wonderful threat to our heroes, even if there is never any doubt who will win the day. This film owes much to its brilliant use of Van Damme and between this role and his breakout performance in JCVD, I can’t imagine why we wouldn’t be treated to a new rebirth in Jean-Claude’s career.
So all told, THE EXPENDABLES 2 might win over the hearts of people who really wanted to like the first film but just couldn’t. But it certainly won’t convince anyone that it is a legitimately good film if they aren’t already excited about the much vaunted assembly of heroes. I’ll revisit the movie several times and will most likely find increasing rewards for doing so. I tend to like my action films on the edgier side, so THE RAID: REDEMPTION will remain the greatest action film of 2012 without any serious challengers. But THE EXPENDABLES 2 delivers you what it promised it would. And I’d be happy to see Barney Ross and Lee Christmas continue to battle it out against any number of other titans of action cinema for many more installments to come. And if this is the film that finally gets a few new JCVD films back onto the big screen here in the US, then I’ll forever owe the movie a profound debt of gratitude.
And I’m Out.
Terry Malloy AKA Ed Travis
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Aug. 17, 2012, 10:20 a.m. CST
Aug. 17, 2012, 10:21 a.m. CST
Aug. 17, 2012, 10:24 a.m. CST
Aug. 17, 2012, 10:40 a.m. CST
That´s poison to me.
Aug. 17, 2012, 11:05 a.m. CST
Aug. 17, 2012, 11:14 a.m. CST
Now that I'm an adult, I do. Maybe that's why I couldn't care less for this shit.
Aug. 17, 2012, 11:26 a.m. CST
hmmmm. i wonder why jcvdB changed his named and conveniently 'forgot' the BERG at the end?
Aug. 17, 2012, 11:37 a.m. CST
by Matt Cade
I actually found Eric Roberts highly enjoyable as the original baddie. He ate up every scene he was in and spit it out. Regardless, EX2 is fun as hell. Speaking of having fun with these guys, enjoy slice of parody - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IHPAcRUcqE&feature=plcp
Aug. 17, 2012, 11:46 a.m. CST
And I absolutely agree. Van Damme stole the show. He's by far the best thing in it. I hope this film makes a fortune and JCVD gets the acknowledgement he deserves.
Aug. 17, 2012, 11:54 a.m. CST
I would kill or die for that poster.
Aug. 17, 2012, 12:07 p.m. CST
by Darth Macchio
That trailer shot of what looks to be a silhouetted Van Damme doing his famous (and remarkably clean and precise) jump-reverse-turn kick makes me think it is him but I've heard his skills have kinda gone the same way as Norris's - ie down the tubes from lack of effort and practice.
Aug. 17, 2012, 12:14 p.m. CST
That big kick IS shrouded in shadow... but Dude's acting chops have steadily improved as he's aged...
by Ed Travis
... sure I'd love to see him in more action roles, but I wouldn't mind seeing him in dramas or crime films where martial arts aren't required.
Aug. 17, 2012, 12:17 p.m. CST
Or it could have something to do with the fact that he's 51 years old. Geez.
Aug. 17, 2012, 12:18 p.m. CST
by Mr Soze
Aug. 17, 2012, 12:29 p.m. CST
I liked in EX how Steve Austin beats Sly's ass and he was as good sport about it. As a huge JCVD fanboy I hope he whoops ass on Sly. That would just be cool to see.
Aug. 17, 2012, 12:51 p.m. CST
Revolver Ocelot, in a metal gear solid movie... the fucker can still kick!
Aug. 17, 2012, 1 p.m. CST
Almost feel that hes the underdog tho IM sure he has his drone army there... But what Expendables 3 should be is one or 2 good guys vs an army of known bad guys. Sly and a sidekick and the rest of his team sidelined for whatever reason or switched sides...
Aug. 17, 2012, 1:59 p.m. CST
http://youtu.be/nwzwWtYORp0 tHE NINTENDABLES
Aug. 17, 2012, 2:13 p.m. CST
Aug. 17, 2012, 2:19 p.m. CST
I got my $6 worth. Action and one liners. JCVD kicked some ass.
Aug. 17, 2012, 2:55 p.m. CST
because he's old as fuck and hasn't had a hit in, well shit, twenty years! Timecop was the last action picture of note that he made. His career has been VOD since Knock Off tanked. He'll never be the star of a movie in the states again.
Aug. 17, 2012, 3:20 p.m. CST
I did want to have fun with the first one, but it fell short for all teh reasons you said, and the cast just wasn't as big as the concept originally promised. That's all gone now. John Ary's review made me nervously apprehensive, but this and ABking's review sound like they genuinely had a ball for all the right reasons.
Aug. 17, 2012, 3:22 p.m. CST
Aug. 17, 2012, 3:51 p.m. CST
Once the action sequences cool off the whole things becomes a tedious snore. Entertaining for about half the time.
Aug. 17, 2012, 4:06 p.m. CST
I'm sure people said the same thing about Stallone. Go watch JCVD and get a clue.
Aug. 17, 2012, 5:29 p.m. CST
by Tanning Chatum
No, no it does not.
Aug. 17, 2012, 5:57 p.m. CST
Aug. 17, 2012, 7:08 p.m. CST
I wrote a bad joke who cares. The movies was awesome. And anyone under the age of 30 won't get some of the Chuck Norris jokes. I'm not talking about the memes of recent years I mean jokes from his movies in the 70's and 80's. It was just good action/revenge movie.
Aug. 17, 2012, 7:24 p.m. CST
by Ed Travis
... my point is more when you have a cast that large AND egos that large, you have to work their schticks all in and you sacrifice any chance at leanness or meanness. That isn't always a bad thing, but in the case of The Expendables, I think it creates a problem in the quality. For instance: AVENGERS was awesome, but lean it was not! But that film didn't suffer in the quality department quite like either Expendables film did.
Aug. 17, 2012, 9:25 p.m. CST
I think Sly and gang know how much charisma and potential Jackie Chan has to play the second-tier-follow-Barney-and-crew-route.
If Chan is casted in an Expendables movie, the entire cast will have to bow to him, something Sly will never be willing to do. Just ask yourself... if Chan is in an Expendables.. what the heck would he be doing? Obviously, he couldn't play a supporting character like Jet Li.
Aug. 17, 2012, 9:27 p.m. CST
Let's see Barney talk about the good oldays with Chan about drinking 200 percent alcohol abv and fending off a Kung-Fu kickmaster. I didn't think so. Chan stands on hsi own. Stallon would be a fool to cast Jackie.
Aug. 17, 2012, 10:51 p.m. CST
I hated the first, but this one was a lot of fun. Van Damme was the best thing about it. No question. However...
by The Krypton Kid
Aug. 17, 2012, 10:52 p.m. CST
You guys are going to rake me over the coals for this, but I'm tired of Stallone being the alpha male who is the center of attention and always comes out on top. The last time he was truly humble in a performance was Cop Land. I want more of THAT Stallo
by The Krypton Kid
Aug. 18, 2012, 1:13 p.m. CST
by Queefer Sutherland
Aug. 18, 2012, 1:17 p.m. CST
by Queefer Sutherland
NEVER has an "action star" had so little charisma, and so little acting talent. I will never understand the appeal of this extremely overrated piece of white bread neocon freak. He needs to climb back into Mike Huckabee's asshole and curl up in his colon. I'm not even sure if I want to see this one. Will they release a "Chuckless" version on DVD?
Aug. 18, 2012, 2:16 p.m. CST
EXP-2 was an ass-whoopin', bloody good time at the movies! Great to see JCVD as the baddie. He was quite good. Also good to see Arnie and BW a bit more too. For me, it was very much like pt.1. Nice doses of humor and unapologetic balls-to-the-wall action, 80's style. Even though I've never been a Chuck Norris fan, his bits were quite funny. Great interaction between the stars. Thumbs way up for EXP-2!!
Aug. 18, 2012, 2:28 p.m. CST
Saw JCVD a couple years ago. It was ok. Better than anything else he's made in a long, long time. Unfortunately he won't have a hit making Belgian films that only a handful of theaters in the US will play. And I've said the same about Stallone. I continue to say it. Respect for the newer Rambo and Rocky movies, but his time is over.
Aug. 19, 2012, 11:21 a.m. CST
Now that these guys will play together, they could make some good remakes of old kick ass films. Magnificent Seven?? Dirty Dozen? The Guns of Navarone and others that I can't think of off the top of my head. I am sure there are more, but I am sure these guys would have one hell of a good time making these films. Mark
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