THE EXPENDABLES 2 (Simon West). 102 minutes. Opens Friday (August 17). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
The Expendables 2 nails the all-star action cartoon tone that eluded the oddly earnest 2010 original.
After Bruce Willis's suit, Church, assigns Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his squadron of aging mercenaries a job that goes wrong, the evil Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme and a pair of shades) kills off a member of the team (hint: who's the least famous new cast member?) and they immediately set out for revenge.
As in any good cheesy action sequel, this time it's personal. The ensuing body count and parade of one-liners will please anybody who wore out a few Commando VHS tapes.
After several sombre blockbusters, this flick caps off the summer with a lovingly nonsensical concoction of explosions, campy slaughter and so-bad-it's-good humour. Chuck Norris pops up to literally tell Chuck Norris jokes, Arnold Schwarzenegger drops every famous catchphrase in his (and Willis's) catalogue, Dolph Lundgren offers welcome self-parody, Jason Statham is at his most Stathamy, and everyone else gets at least one round of machine gun insanity.
It's all idiotic and gratuitous, but at least knowingly and gloriously so. If this concludes the franchise, Stallone and co. can leave content that they delivered vintage macho movie mayhem as promised.