They are back. But they are not horribly bad this time, but bad nonetheless.
The Expendables 2 at best, is slightly better than it's predecessor which had suffocating space for rationality and gloriously failed in the humor department. Not that these are any parameters for the target audience of the film, but I hate to be the guy who walks in a theater convinced not to expect any traces of cleverness in the plot, performances or the lines.
The sequel, obviously churned out for commercial gains, rather than to aesthetically carry forward the Expendables legacy (Did I just say that?) is infused with such terribly lousy lines; I recommend you carry your music player and plug in to your rock playlist to make the most out of this high-octane actioner.
The gang, helmed by Stallone and Statham have been assigned another operation by the haggard-looking Wills that involves cracking a secure-code from a crashed aircraft somewhere in Albania. Armed with two new recruits, Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu (an inclusion simply to break-free of the sexist trap), the team sets out only to be ambushed by the menacing Van Damme, who gets hold of the data and proceeds to finish the operation.
Stallone, with a deadpan expression and a tired body, has just one thing to say, "Track 'em, Kill 'em".
So it's a wafer-thin plot which is a shadowy excuse to infuse the picture with all the man-bashing, man-exploding, man-cutting and man-melting. The Expendables predictably get hold of the bad guys, and in the process massacre people that may equate to the entire population of Sudan.
Although the blood-shedding is genuinely inventive and more accessible than the unwatchable gore of the first part, it is the lines and the people mouthing them that make this one a confused watch. If one can ignore that aspect completely, of long gone action heroes revitalizing their fading careers, and unsuccessfully so as far as their enactments are concerned, you will safely devour the brilliantly crafted set pieces.
But the screenwriters are such genius studs, they insert their embarrassing one-liners with a lot of conviction and do so at the most awkward instances, depreciating the overall quality of the film to a new low.
"If you don bring my big weapon back, your ass is terminated."
Other devices to evoke humor includes personal references to the ensemble cast; unsurprisingly the funniest of them include the ones directed at Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stallone himself. The self-depreciating humour works, but only to a level and after that it is evident as a fairly unimaginative way, not to mention totally witless method of writing dialogue.
Nobody expects them to write Aaron Sorkin lines, but then nobody expects them to come across dumb and stupid machine-gun mercenaries either.
But in comparison, Expendables 2 is more human than its insanely heartless predecessor, watchable both because of staisfying action interwined in a not very inventive but at least a coherent plot.
Let's hope that the entire cast is not nominated for the Razzies, in which case Stallone needs to write a speech.