Monday, 27 August 2012

Expendables 2: Review and summary (2/2)

When we left our heroes, poor Billy had been stabbed through the heart by the villainous Jean-Claude Van Damme. Mr Stallone takes this rather amiss, declaring his response to be to "track 'em, find 'em, kill 'em", delightfully evoking an irascible John Wayne. Sly meets Bruce Willis, and you can tell he's angry and upset, because he tries to pick a fight with him, saying he never gets his hands dirty, always sending people to die for him. Brucey plays his cards right, and refuses to get suckered in. With the help of Maggie, Sly et al set about tracking down the Nasty Chaps.

Having been introduced to the baddies as pretty mean, since they killed Billy Don'tBeAHero, we now see that they are even nastier than that. It turns out that the doodah from the downed aeroplane is a map to an abandoned mine in which the Russians left 5 tons (or is it tonnes? This is an American film, so surely the former) of plutonium - dun-dun-duh! Jean-Claude and his villainous cronies want to extract the plutonium and sell it to as many wealthy terrorists as they can for as much money as possible. They are a little wary of dying of radiation poisoning, so they kidnap all the men from the villages surrounding the abandoned mine to collect it for them. J-C's 2-i-C espies a crushed villager cradling another man, clearly poisoned and weak, and speeds up the cradler's return to work by shooting the sick man. Remember that these baddies are gloriously two-dimensional in their villainy! It's wonderful! 2-i-C is ordered to collect all the remaining villagers to speed up the process of mining everything out inside three days.

Arriving some hours away in the aeroplane, Sly and his crew decide to have a bit of a recce before doing anything. They espy some sinister chaps with satanic neck tattoos, and intend to beat them up for information. Maggie kindly steps in with a bag of scalpels and offers her services. There's a tasteful cut to the next scene. I suspect if that scene ever was written, that it was one of those horrifying moments excised when Chuck Norris was attached to the production. Information "acquired" our heroes decamp to an abandoned Soviet army base, where the Russians trained to attack New York, apparently. Doubtless this is a nod to the approaching remake of Red Dawn. Mr Statham is sent back to the aeroplane to fetch a lot of guns. Our heroes encamp in a building, and there follows a little comic scene with Terry Crews having brought proper food while everyone else is eating horrible ration packs. We have a touching moment between Sly and Maggie, when he says he keeps women at a distance as people around him get hurt, and she advises him that this is no way to live.

It's next morning, and Terry's having a cup of lovely coffee in a porcelain cup, and Dolph Lundgren is snoring like a chainsaw. Suddenly the villains arrive! A gunfight ensues, with our heroes fleeing the deathtrap of a building. They are vastly outnumbered, with little hope of victory or even survival, and Sly telephones Statham to have him hurry up and bring a tank as they are badly outgunned. Then around the corner comes . . . a tank - but it isn't driven by dear Jason. Nope, the baddies have a tank. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Things look bleak for our heroes. Stallone has a single round left, and so he leans round the corner to take a final shot. BLAM! The baddy goes down. BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM-BLAM! BOOM! All the other nasties are cut down in a hail of gunfire, and the tank is taken out of the equation by a judiciously aimed ATGM (or something along those lines). Puzzlement abounds! I didn't do that. Did you do that? No, I don't have any bullets left! Then who?

Up pops the internet's most-popular meme, Mr Charles Horatio Xavier Norris. A spot of friendly banter ensues, and our heroes thank Chuck for helping them out. There's a reference to the memes in the form of Chuck's character saying that a King Cobra died after biting him. Boom-boom. But he works solo, and so off our heroes trot, Statham having arrived with more shooty things. They still need to find that base, after all! Through a scenic village (grey, sad people in drab clothes), when suddenly they come under fire. As it turns out, the ladies of the village had mistaken them for the villains, and decided to shoot first in an effort to save their little boys from being kidnapped to work in the mines. Villagers: "Who are you?" Sly: "We're American." Statham: "I'm English!" Maggie: "Chinese!" Terry: "Cherokee!" Randy: "You're all idiots." There's a slightly confusing moment as our heroes mistake themselves for hard-headed people solely out for revenge as opposed to a hilariously violent A-Team.

So the villains turn up in trucks to kidnap everyone else in this village. They are divided around the village and ambushed by various of our heroes. There is some rather comic gunfire from Dolph, and some lovely, balletic knife-slinging from our Jason, disguised as a priest. It seems a little odd that the villains hadn't kidnapped an old man in priest's robes beforehand, given they had stolen away every other weak old man. Maybe these are secretly devout Orthodox villains with satanic symbols on their necks. It's a delightful inconsistency. You might mistake that for a criticism, but these small scars make me love a silly film all the more. The baddies having been wiped out to a man, Sly et al decamp to spy out the enemy base. It's protected by a minefield, anti-tank weaponry (was that an old German 105mm gun?! I don't care if it wasn't, I like the idea too much!), AA weaponry - quad 0.50 cals, I think, and then one has to cross a bridge before one can get into the mine. This is going to be a challenge.

Unless you have an aeroplane with an artillery piece in the nose and a "bomb-bay door". Zoom in, shoot things, drop explosives onto the bridge's defenders . . . and then crash straight into the abandoned mine inside a disintegrating aircraft. Excellent! Ridiculously, wonderfully, gloriously over-the-top! After a little groaning from our heroes, they pop out and gun down all the villains, only to get caught in the mine by J-C, who blows the roof supports, and hightails it out of their with his convoy of trucks. Dolph, a former chemistry genius, apparently, has a way out: set fire to the phosphorus in the walls. No dice, Dolph. Too damp, apparently. But what's this? It's a large drilling machine coming through the wall of the chamber they're trapped in. Who's that driving? Why, it's only Arnie! He's both paying back the favour when Sly's chaps rescued him at this film's opening, and he's referencing Total Recall. Nice one, Arnie!

Bruce, seemingly stung by Sly's earlier chastisement about never turning up, beckons everyone into helicopters, and off they race ahead of J-C's column of nuclear trucks. Rather than any sort of planned ambush, they just stand in front of the them and blaze away very loudly! Veering off the road, J-C details a few men to hold off Bruce, Sly and Arnie - a foolish move, as they all end up dead. Then it's into the airport. If J-C can only massacre his pursuers, load five tons of plutonium onto an aeroplane, and then evade the CIA, and then sell his plutonium, he's home free. Ah. There are some very nice bits in the airport. As the baddies tear about, shooting at civilians, we see three figures, side-by-side, open fire from behind panes of opaque glass. It's Bruce! It's Sly! It's Arnie! But what's this? Sniping from a perch is the redoubtable Charles Fortescue Mornington Norris! What a lot of bullets. Huzzah!

Meanwhile, Mr Statham has a very pretty (if you find these words ineptly chosen, please feel welcome to substitute "artfully choreographed") fight with J-C's 2-i-C, culminating in shoving his head through a helicopter's rear propellor. Bruce and Arnie get into a small car, which Arnie declares is smaller than his shoe. They then drive by villains, with Bruce spraying SMG fire and Arnie blasting them with what I assume from its volume and ROF is an automatic shotgun. I could be wrong, mind - I have only a vague idea of weaponry. It looks and sounds right for Arnie, and that's the main thing. Then Sly and Maggie catch up with Jean-Claude, and there's a very good final fight scene. Needless to say, the good guy is victorious. I shan't detail it - you'll just have to watch it and enjoy it yourself. The film ends with Bruce providing the guys with a large biplane in which to fly off into the sunset. Roll the credits and closing music. In a word, do go see this film. It's fun.

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