When a plethora of action heroes come together, expectation is clearly set - 'Be Ready to witness guns blazing all corners with no respite whatsoever'. So far, so okay. You don't want a breather either. However what you do wish for are some moments of thrills, some silent pauses of drama and then a round of fire (in no particular order) to go on a loop. When something like that happens, it leads to a roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, this is one area 'The Expendables 2' ignored, and consciously for that matter, as what one gets to see right through this 100 odd minutes affair is bullets, bullets and more bullets.
The film has a paper thin storyline. Our expendables are together again with Sylvestser Stallone leading the bunch. After ensuring an escape for a Chinese business tycoon (and in the process pre-maturely ending Jet Li's role as well - what a shame!), they were just settling down before getting on to their next assignment. However as it happens in formulaic Hollywood flicks, a new recruit (Liam Hemsworth), who is just about to start a new life, is bumped off by the villain of the piece (Jean-Claude Van Damme), an arms dealer. Expendables now have a task in hand, something personal for that matter!
What begins from this point in is Stallone and his team's (Jason Statham - boasting of the strongest role after Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture) hunt for the baddies. Nan Yu, a Chinese combat specialist, joins the team as well with Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger making surprise appearance at crucial junctures. All this while, Bruce Willis makes interim appearances as the man who has a task in hand for Expendables.
While there isn't much to talk about from the story perspective, the action is what keeps the narrative moving. Though there aren't any heart-in-the-mouth moments that could have resulted in an edge-of-the-seat experience for the audience, what works best for 'The Expendables' is the fact that it is supremely fast paced. There is literally not a single minute that passes by when there isn't something significant happening on screen. So whether it is men being killed in dozens to mini planes exploding to bridges being destroyed to mayhem being the order of the day to some friendly banter - there is excitement galore.
Still, one does miss the fact that there is not a single high quotient dramatic moment in the film. Liam's killing is predictable, Stallone's brooding act is vintage stuff, Dolph's heart warming up to Nan is text book stuff while Bruce's assignment for Stallone has that seen-all-done-before feel. Thankfully there is no mumbo-jumbo around nuclear chemicals hunt even as Van Damme goes about exploiting locals for all the dirty mining work. Now if only there would be added thrills with some massive unexpected turnarounds with some shift in characterisation of good v/s bad, 'The Expendables' could have been far a better affair.
For those hunting for some nostalgia though, there is quite a lot in the offering. Stallone returns to his 'Rambo' mode, Bruce Willis is his usual self while his pulling of Schwarzenegger's leg after the latter continues to repeat his 'I will be back' one liner is truly hilarious. One did expect more of such humour though even as Statham goes about bringing that magical smile time and again even in the midst of all the martial arts that he performs to perfection.
Though director Simon West's handling of 'The Expendables - 2' is much better than how Stallone himself had directed first in the series, here is hoping that the third instalment is far more fun as and when it arrives.