The Film (3.5/5)
Yippee Ki-yay! The Expendables return for more gunfights, bloody violence and more mega-stars from the eighties and nineties crammed together to make one bloody good picture. In The Expendables 2, Mr. Church, played by Bruce Willis (Die Hard) again, this time has a little more screen time as enlists (via blackmail) the same gang of aging but elite, mercenaries known as The Expendables, headed by Barney Ross(Sylvester Stallone, Death Race 2000) which includes young newcomer Billy, the Kid (Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games) on another mission to find a blueprint in a plane that crashed in Albania Church also has a special agent, a woman, Maggie Chan(Nan Yu) to make sure they find and retrieve it. This blueprint, unbeknownst to the Expendables is a map to a Russian plutonium storage mine. While they are retrieving the blueprint, the screens’ villain, aptly named Vilain, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme(Hard Target) and his team, called The Sangs, take Billy the Kid hostage. They will release him when the blueprint is handed over to Vilain. After receiving it, they “kill Bill” anyway. The rest of the film becomes a tour de vengeance with Ross and his Expendables along with Maggie hunt down Vilain and The Sangs to avenge the death of Billy, the Kid and also to prevent the Russians from building plutonium bombs.
The Expendables 2 is more or less on par with the first film. The direction by West doesn’t deviate from the first film at all, as if Stallone told him he how wanted the film to be directed. The cast is still basically males full of testosterone that are bigger than life cartoon characters with guns and other weapons. Maggie as the lone female in the mission, really didn’t add or subtract to the film, as she also comes as across as a character also taking a high testosterone pill. The story is fairly plain and simple, the characters are just one dimension, leaving it up to the action to save the day, which it does. Definitely a must if you are into hard hitting, gunfights, and fistfights with legendary stars from twenty plus years ago.
Speaking of which, Chuck Norris (The Octagon) has a small role playing the heroic Booker, an old friend of Barney Ross who helps out The Expendables when they are in trouble. Are you ready for this? He has his own theme music each time he appears, which is the theme to the spaghetti Western classic, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. It was funny, clever and a nice nod, but Chuck Norris is no ‘man with no name’, nor is he Clint Eastwood from the sixties.
There are some really clever lines and dialog throughout The Expendables 2. Arnold Schwarzenegger(Hercules in New York), also returning from the first Expendables movie, has a bigger role and has the great line “I’m back” , which is a nod to the timeless classic, Terminator II. Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis have a great dialog exchange toward the where Willis mockingly uses the “I’ll be back” line and adds a “you’re always coming back” line to Schwarzenegger, who replies back, using the famous Die Hard line, “Yippee Ki-yay” after Willis leaves him behind.
Just as in the first Expendables film, The Expendables 2 is presented in its original letterboxed 2:35:1 aspect ratio, in 2160P, 4K UHD. The HDR quality really enhances the image quality but still maintaining a natural look; the image is very clear, boasting beautiful, bold, robust, saturated colors. Daylight scenes look exceptionally well detailed. You can see the wear and tear on characters faces, whether it’s from reel life or real life. The outdoor scenery is well detailed. The black levels look balanced as well; details remain solid during the night scenes. There were a couple of scenes appearing a little blurry, smeary, perhaps soft, but this could be how the director wanted it, but outside of that, this is visually impressive.
The audio used is Dolby Atmos and this is also very impressive. Explosions, gunshots, dialog sound just dynamic, and was a pleasure to listen to all the sound effects.
There are no supplements on the UHD disc, which seems to be the norm, but lucky for us, UHD releases tend to be UHD / Blu-ray combos. The extras from the first Blu-ray release are still included on this Blu-ray disc. On the Blu-ray there is the audio commentary by Director Simon West, and some featurettes including, Gods of War: Assembling Earth's Mightiest Anti-Heroes; Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980's and the Rise of the Action Film; On the Assault: The Real Life Weaponry of The Expendables 2, with Randy Couture acting as tour guide at Las Vegas' Gun Store, deleted scenes and a gag real
Okay, so these Expendables’ films lack in a few areas, but you can’t take away the entertainment value of them. And yes, seeing some of my favorite action actors from over thirty years ago still doing it is still a treat . This film will not disappoint those wanting hard hitting action. The UHD 4K release looks terrific and you still get the supplements on the Blu-ray disc. This is a very fine package from Lionsgate.