The Expendables 2 hit the cinemas in Singapore, last week, and I was lucky enough to bag front-row seats to see the biggest assembly of has-been action heroes in Hollywood history! I hadn't felt this excited about seeing an action movie since I last saw a Stallone / Arnie / Willis blockbuster in a cinema, well over a decade ago! I even smuggled in a few La Trappe Belgian craft beers (they never check the bags of 6ft+ tall white men, and I'm too old to do the slush puppy thing anymore) to enjoy in the cinema as I watched my childhood heroes show me that being 60+ is the new 40s!
Perhaps some of you can already tell that I'm a product of the action movies and action heroes of the 1990s. Well, you’re right! I grew up on Mortal Kombat arcade games and action movies, and I still bear the scars of when my childish mimicry and play-acting (inspired by various action movies of the 90s) ended in disaster--usually followed by a good hiding from dad. Dad: Why did you shoot your brother in the face with a BB gun? Me: But dad! :.( We were doing the Terminator VS Liquid man fight and he would not fall into the swimming pool to complete the scene [this was in the middle of blerrie winter, mind you].
I grew up wanting to be like Stallone, Arnie, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Jean Claude van Damme, and that 7-foot tall blonde Swedish guy we all only got to see in those k@k, b-rate late-night karate movies (usually on ETV). I'm surprised they didn’t includ that muscular white woman with the Asian haircut, as she usually starred in similar low-budget karate movies that seemed to borrow their scriptwriters from the porn industry.
I remember in primary school how everyone (me included) was emulating characters of action movies and repeating all the memorable lines and expletive-laden insults. I still remember borrowing VHS tapes from friends so I could see the latest action movies they recorded off M-Net (my bland parents couldn't bother to get us M-Net). I even pumped iron for a while in an attempt to end up looking like Arnold, though I now have a beer gut, which, like the orbit of Jupiter, is constantly expanding.
With that setting and history in mind, I hope I can strike an emotional chord with you, the audience as I lambast the bastards of Hollywood for another commercial piece of crap not worthy of gracing the big screen! Once again, I was treated to the all too familiar experience of hearing the seams of my wallet snap as Hollywood’s creatively incestral clan of directors raped my wallet and simultaneously destroyed my childhood memories and heroes!
And I had just recovered from the damage done to me by George Lucas and the filth that is the STAR WARS prequel trilogy! The announcement of his retirement (though I had secretly been praying for his death), finally allowed me to sleep peacefully again as I realised he could never again harm STAR WARS with his digital effects addiction rand bad writing!
While I will admit that action movies were never really for the intelligent among us, memorable action movies always set out to deliver three things:
1. shitloads of explosions and wrecked cars
2. memorable lines and insults, usually cleverly constructed from a concoction of expletives
3. and make it look cool to be a muscle-bound immigrant with a speech impediment or a funny accent
Slush puppy and popcorn never tasted as good as when watching Stallone freeze Snipes and shatter his popsicle corpse in Demolition Man, or watching the Terminator pull out that 5-foot Gatling gun to neutralize the police threat outside Cyberdyne systems (Terminator 2). And who can forget 'yippee kay yay motherfucker’ [BOOOOM], shouted by Bruce Willis as he blows the lead terrorist's head off his shoulders in yet another Die Hard movie? As a man who frequently in the shower takes soap to the eyes, I can’t forget the scene in Bloodsport where that cheating Asian mutant soaped Jean Claude in an attempt to win the fight (only to unlock Jean’s Uber mode!)
The Expendables 2 had NONE of the above classic ingredients that are essential to a good action movie. It just had the voices and now wrinkled faces of famous actors, and--considering the cast--that really is a damn shame. I could easily have done this movie and its star-studded cast justice if they had but given me a WEEK, a SINGLE WEEK, to write the script and dialogue for The Expendables 2.
Conspicuously absent, but certainly not missed is the racial insult spewing, womanizing, anti-Semite action hero from the wastelands of the apocalypse, Mel Gibson. Perhaps the Outback sun has finally caused permanent damage to his brain because he does not seem to realise he's no longer on the set of an action movie! It's over Mel; it's over: The cameras stopped rolling years ago, so come back to reality man! He would have been perfect as a co-villain in The Expendables 2 or even the puppet-master of Jean Claude’s character, only Mel probably would not have stopped shouting at people after the director yelled... CUT!
Also absent is Jackie Chan, who decided a couple of months ago to retire from acting. I think he would have been a better pick than Jet Lee, who swings a few pans in to peoples faces and then, quite literally, bails from the movie by leaping out of a plane, never to be seen again. Sorry if that is a spoiler, but I think the fact that I explained that The Expendables 2 is an action movie is already much more of a spoiler than anything I can let slip from what I gleamed from the screen.
All of these guys were bloody awesome at one point in cinematic history. What a damn shame it is that the Expendables 2 recaptures none of what made these guys and everything they did on screen become pop culture. Fark man, the word 'Blockbuster' was invented just to explain how epic these guys and their movies were!
If you don't know what I am going on about by complaining about how things were, the you seriously had a f**ked-up childhood, and I pity you greatly. I bet you were chilling out with the rest of the 'van Rooyen' victims in the basement, staring at the rays of light that penetrated through the wooden boards for entertainment...
Of course, they had to have Chuck Norris parody himself on the big screen. But the director obviously didn’t know any of the good Chuck Norris jokes! Why did Stallone not ask, “Hey man, why are you not wearing a watch”? Chuck Norris: Because I decide what time it is!
While I won't let slip the actual joke the director decided to use in the movie, I know any serious Chuck Norris joke fan will be as disappointed as was I.
The sobering thought I had after leaving the cinema (and having the effects of the beer wear off) is the realization that my childhood heroes are gone, swallowed up in the irrational, self-mocking, cliché laden gunk that has become 21-century entertainment ala Hollywood style. Perhaps it is time for Hollywood to hang up its cameras, props, and visual effects equipment and embrace senility with dignity.
Action movies are now in the same state as the world of professional boxing is in. All the legends are either retired or dead, and the few who dare show up from time to time merely make a mockery out of themselves. And also, every new kid that enters the scene from now on will be but a mosquito buzzing about in the shadows legends that made the sport so amazing at one time!
We see this in The Expendables 2. Chris Hemsworth is there with the big boys to serve as the cross-over of coolness. But this kid will have to pack on way more muscle to even have the stage presence of Stallone or Arnold in their prime.
And before one of those simplistic people--the kind who are endlessly entertained by the latest Hollywood scandal--drops me a commend telling me I'm just getting older now or finally 'growing up', let me blow your argument out of the water, right now. I will not take the 'blame the fans’ excuse for this movie genre, as I can still pop in my Predator 1, Judge Dredd, Terminator (1 & 2), Demolition Man, etc. DVDs and enjoy rewatching these movies repeatedly! If I never again see The Expendables 2, it will be too soon!
To close, I’ve spoken more about what The Expendables 2 is not than what it is. With modern blockbuster entertainment being what it is, I think most people will know what this movie is simply from me saying what it is not.
And so, ladies and gentleman, the curse of mortality and the aging process draw the curtains on another era. While we all knew that our childhood heroes had to grow old someday, I bet the shock of how quickly that day came echoes in the cranial cavities of us all.
The next time we will get to see or hear about these action heroes again will most likely be when they are claimed by the grave. Perhaps then, we will finally see them come to the screen as Digital replicas and become immortal as they churn out blockbuster after blockbuster and thrill and excite growing audiences around the world.
I can dream, can't I?
The Expendables 2 could have been vastly improved had it been the same old sh!t we’ve seen over… and over again in action movies. Instead, it breaks tradition on an action film and tries to parody the roles and characters made famous by the movie’s star-studded cast. This pulled me out of the movie too often and I could not get back in there to care about their mission or their motives (not that they seemed to have much of either)
5/10 – Not even the Terminator, Sly, van Damme, or… CHUCK NORRIS can save the disaster that is ‘The Expendables 2’. I suggest it be renamed to ‘The Forgettables 2’.