|btw this post is about the Expendables 2|
The first Expendables was, kind of disappointingly, just ok. Maybe very ok? maybe, even though I was quite entertained and I left the theater thinking that those euros were well spent, that wasn't enough, that wasn't what I wanted to see or at least not entirely. I'm not saying it was a bad film, but
what did we want from it? well I can tell you what I wanted, with three examples:
- Demolition Man: one of my favorite action movies and somewhere in my top 20 favorite movies ever, no jokes. It has a surprisingly interesting setting and a nice story, more than we usually ask for, and both acting and directing are pretty good for the genre. It's the classic example of not-so-dumb action movie, it can be cheesy sometimes and won't be as good without the action vibe, but his let's call it naivite is almost a plus and surely a breath of fresh air when compared to other movie with the same themes (basically violence, freedom and so called uthopian futures). Could the Expandables have been like this? no, no one really believed it and I don't think anyone involved in the movie had that in mind, even though you can sense that they tried to flesh out (poorly) a story that dealt with some sort of issues, I guess that's what action movies writers do these days (I haven't seen action movies in a while, I have to admit).
- Commando: a perfect example of tight script if there ever was one, it always cracks me up that at the usual setting "I kidnapped your defenseless daughter to what you're told or she dies" (pretty common in one variant or the other) Schwarznegger's charachter responds with a "fuck you" and a trail of corpses. Fuck. Yeah. Would that have been a good Expandables movie? yes, kinda, it would've been fun to watch but a little odd since apart from some memorably hilarious scenes Commando is actually a pretty serious film, and now I'm almost getting to the point.
- the Crank series: a fantastic first movie and an even better sequel where you laugh, point you finger at the screen and yell something inintelligible even if you're the more polite gentleman of Britain, it's 90% well shot, well lit, super awesome action and/or as-explicit-as-it-gets sex and 10% memorable scenes where you get to feel how ludicrous the movie is, and how good does it feel to watch a movie that, for once, doesn't take itself seriously. I'm not saying every action movie has to be like this (though they should mostly be like this, I feel, and leave the serious vibe to directors that know how to handle it), but Expendables HAD TO.
The idea of getting all those guys back was awesome but also, somehow, funny, ludicrous if you want, it had to be exposed by themselves as something that its possible only if you do it for fun, as a throwback to a different age. I understand you have to somehow get to speed with the action movies that are being shot today, but at the same time having a very serious, story driven drama with action was a very bad way to use all those guys. It's not a coincidence if you almost only see Statham and Stallone, because in that kind of movie you need a protagonist, a sidekick, a villain and the rest (unless you're very skilled) can only have supporting roles. You need a somewhat silly movie to have all the freedom you need, and the first Expendables wasn't silly enough.
so, what about the Expendables 2? well, this one is COMPLETELY AWESOME AND IT GET'S EVERYTHING RIGHT! It's silly, over the top, action-PACKED (and I mean almost 75% of the movie, I think) and we're talking well-shot and creative action, not shaky camera and kind-of-already-seen action (like, sadly, in the first Expendables), it's everything we really wanted and more (trust me, it's really more than you could imagine if noone spoilers it). You finally get to feel all the characters thanks to some nice and personal scenes where everyone interacts in a way that shows the camaraderie and friendship that we were mostly told they shared in the first movie, and in an action packed movie where it could be hard to relate or even just care for the characters those little moments you get to spend with them are crucial to be invested in what happens later when they are in the middle of a bullet rain. True, you never have the feeling they're going to die (with a few exceptions, but we're still talking of a silly movie), but without getting to know them a little bit most of the film could get almost boring (well that's not entirely true since the action is really well written, but it's still nice). Is there anything left to say? well from a technical point of view, not that I'm an expert but is easy to tell, the movie is better than is predecessor, and really, I don't see how anyone could not like it. It would help if you loved the old Stallone, Schwarznegger & co. movies but it's not mandatory, just go see it.