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Movie Review: 'The Expendables 2'

Sylvester Stallone and his bad old boys come out to play and blow a lot of stuff up

Director: Simon  West
Rating R. Running Time: ‎ 102 min
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme

Sylvester Stallone's latest blood-and-guts adventure draws much of its visual power from a little-known biological phenomenon: When a human body is shot, stabbed or punched really hard, it explodes in a shower of flying blood, much like a water balloon filled to capacity with ketchup.

Also, heads and limbs detach from torsos with the ease of a G.I. Joe doll in the hands of a malevolent 3-year-old. And most automobiles, when flipped, will explode with all the intensity of an atomic Ford Pinto.

Yu Nan, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, back right in THE EXPENDABLES 2

Sylvester Stallone, front, and some of his superannuated demolition squad — Frank Masi/Lionsgate

I could bore you with the storyline of The Expendables 2, which in the broadest terms involves a gang of boomer-plus-aged mercenaries trying to stop a bad guy from stealing tons of plutonium from a former Soviet stockpile. But plotting is not the point of either this or the previous Expendables epic.

The reason we're all here is to see 66-year-old Stallone and his veteran all-star, all-stud cast — including veteran action figures Jason Statham (44), Chuck Norris (72), Jet Li (49), Dolph Lundgren (54) and Jean-Claude Van Damme (51) — shoot, knife, bomb, strangle and neck-snap their way across the Balkans, all the time wisecracking about each others' oddball quirks.

The fun for us, of course, is in seeing these AARP-eligible hunks have their way with the youngsters, both friend and foe. The old guys keep reminding us that they're not as buff as the kids — although Stallone, for one, still has one impressive set of guns — but they're smarter, they're savvier and they're survivors.

"Shut up and shoot something," barks Bruce Willis to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the first Expendables movie, Bruce Willis (now 57) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (65) turned up for a cameo, looking almost embarrassed to be there. But the two must have later sat in a theater for the rest of the film and grunted to themselves, "Well, that looks like fun." So both of them are back, and this time they stay long enough to do some major damage themselves — especially in a disarmingly funny scene in which the two stuff themselves into a SmartCar for a high-speed shootout.

"My shoe is bigger dan dis car!" says Arnold.

"Shut up and shoot something!" barks Bruce.

Schwarzenegger, who'll be back next year playing an Arizona sheriff (!) in the action flick The Last Stand, gets the movie's best line. It comes right at the end, and I won't spoil it for you. But it gets to the heart of why we bother with these movies in the first place.

You may also like: Bill Newcott's joint review of the original Expendables film and Eat, Pray, Love. In his words "they're the very same movie." 

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Your Scoop on Cinema

Movies for Grownups is focused on films with distinct relevance to a 50-plus audience. In reviews, previews and interviews, we look for actors and themes that speak to the experiences of older moviegoers. Find more about us on:


100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

By Bill Newcott
January 2015

A treasure trove of delightfully offbeat recommendations for discerning moviegoers, from the beginnings of film right up the present.

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