‘The Expendables 2’ review: A big old ’80s-flashback action cheese-fest

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'The Expendables 2' review: Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews and Nan Yu in The Expendables 2
Sylvester Stallone (Barney Ross), Dolph Lundgren (Gunner Jensen), Randy Couture (Toll Road), Terry Crews (Hale Caeser) and Nan Yu (Maggie) in The Expendables 2

Review in a nutshell: The Expendables 2 is a cheesy, testosterone-filled fest that I couldn’t stop snickering over, headlined by aging action stars. But it was also very self-aware of being all of the above, so instead of laughing *at* it, I was laughing *with* it.

Movie synopsis

CIA man Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) approaches Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the Expendables for a supposedly easy job — to retrieve something from a plane that crashed in the former Soviet Union — and sends a woman, Maggie (Nan Yu), to make sure he gets it. However, the group of mercenaries find themselves facing an unexpected foe, and one of them is killed in the process. They decide to seek revenge deep in the heart of enemy territory, where they discover more at stake for the world than they expected.

Would I recommend you watch it?

Do you like cheesy ’80s-style macho action movies headlined by aging actors? Or do you like poking fun at them at the very least? Then this movie is for you.

Click here to jump to the bottom for where you can watch The Expendables 2.

Or continue reading for a full review with some spoilers.

Full review of The Expendables 2 (with some spoilers)

Ah, the nostalgia, watching action stars of the ’80s stage a comeback! Saw The Expendables 2 last night, and I couldn’t stop laughing at all these hulking, muscled men, tendons popping out, grunting through their lines. Their cheesy lines. It’s so rife with cliches, glaring showdowns, ridiculously overblown action, bad plot devices and one-note, unspeakably evil villains that it’s essentially one big cheese-fest poking fun of itself. (Re: the villain, played by a comically farcical Jean-Claude Van Damme, actually being called *Vilain*.)

AND GOSH, THE WAY THEY INTRODUCED CHUCK NORRIS. Single-handedly taking down a whole gang of bad guys and a tank; strolling down the street in slow-mo to the theme of Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”; and then including one of his infamous jokes: “I heard that you were bitten by a king cobra.” “Yeah, but after five days of agonising pain, the cobra died.” Everyone stares at him in disbelief for a long moment before bursting out in laughter, so you don’t know if he’s actually joking or not.

Chuck Norris' *epic* introduction in The Expendables 2
Chuck Norris’ epic introduction in The Expendables 2

Not to forget, unexplained deus ex machinae! (Seriously, where did Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis pop up from in the later part?) The one-liners! (Willis telling Schwarzenegger: “You’ve been back enough. I’ll be back.”) Gruesome death by propeller! (I just *knew* when the villains started up the helicopter that someone was going to die that way. And Jason Statham quips immediately after that: “Can’t beat a classic”.)

The Expendables 2 helicopter guns blazing scene
Let’s not even mention how these guys mysteriously got from this scene to the airport fight scene

I didn’t watch the movie in theatres last year because the first Expendables was just bleargh to me, and I’m not usually into testosterone-filled fests. Not sure why I liked this one better. Perhaps Eastern European grit looks better than South American grit? More Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis this time? No Mickey Rourke? Or perhaps it’s the presence of Liam Hemsworth like a cheery ray of sunshine in the darkness. He looks so fresh-faced and sweet against all these grizzly old men, and he has an even cuter name to go with his looks: “Billy the Kid” (say “awww”). Too bad it was only for a while, but Nan Yu as Maggie, the tough young CIA tag-along, did pretty well in his place.

Liam Hemsworth as the sharpshooting "Billy the Kid" in The Expendables 2
Liam Hemsworth as the sharpshooting “Billy the Kid” in The Expendables 2

In all honesty, most action movie blockbusters nowadays can probably be summed up in these phrases: “Action-packed. Fast-paced. Violent. Over-the-top. Rife with cheesy one-liners.” It’s just that they all have a different style of doing it that makes you come back for more, or at least, not mind watching another one. Which is why action movies will never go out of business, however formulaic they become.

Where to watch The Expendables 2 in the U.S.

Streaming services: The Expendables 2 is on fuboTV. It is not on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or any other streaming services.

Rent/Buy: Get it on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Microsoft, FandangoNOW, Redbox

Where to watch The Expendables 2 in Singapore

Streaming services: The Expendables 2 is on Netflix and Catchplay. It’s not on Amazon Prime Video or any other local streaming services.

Rent/Buy: Get it on Catchplay

Where to watch The Expendables 2 in other countries

Not in the U.S. or in Singapore? Here’s a handy guide on how to find specific movies and watch them online legally, wherever you are.

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