The Expendables 2 (2012)

Rated R. Our ratings: V -6 ;L -;4 S/N -. 2. Running time: 1 hour 43 min.

The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
and his soul hates the lover of violence.
Psalm 11:5

I now am convinced that my decision to skip the first Expendables was correct. Even though Sylvester Stallone has turned over the director’s chair to Simon West, this action film is less believable than anything from the Brothers Grimm. The bad guys still can’t hit a barn with their spray of bullets, whereas the good guys seldom miss, even when shooting from the hip or holding heavy rapid-fire guns in one arm. In hand to hand fighting the heroes absorb blows and falls that would kill most people, but go on fighting with scarcely a pause. I know, I know, this is the stuff aimed at adolescents like Wimpy Kids’Greg whose ideas about reality are garnered from video games.

Stallone’s Barney Ross gathers his gang of toughs at the behest of CIA agent Church (Bruce Willis) to go and retrieve a document from a safe aboard a plane that has crashed in the wilds of a former Soviet state. (This is after a long pre-credits sequence in which the competency of the violent guys is established as they blow and shoot up a village in Nepal where they have been sent to rescue a Chinese billionaire.)

Church will not tell them why the document is so important, but he does insist that his top female agent Maggie (Nan Yu) accompanies his group. There follows the usual lack of respect from Barney and crew until she proves herself. Their quest goes awry when the Sang gang, led by the appropriately named Villain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) shows up, grabs one of the gang, negotiates an exchange for the document, and then kills the hostage anyway as they make their escape.

The film now becomes a revenge quest taking the Expendables to an old decrepit Soviet factory town where all of the men, except for a few in hiding, have been taken away by the Sang to work as slaves in their plutonium mine—yes, that was the secret contained in the stolen document, the location of the mine. The rest of the film is a series of battles and fights utterly unbelievable—oh, did I say that before?—in which guys played by Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzeneggar pop up to help out the good guys. They apparently were in the neighborhood. Films such as this almost make me wish for the hard economic times to continue so that their financial sources will dry up. But then our culture seems so in love with violence that this kind of drech will more easily find backers than films like Hope Springs.