The remainder isn't bad, either; in fact, it's more fun than the 2010 original, while remaining every bit as big and dumb. Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham, Safe) and the rest of the Expendables are hired by Church (Bruce Willis) to retrieve a case from a downed plane in Russia. After doing so, they run afoul of a villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his henchman (Scott Adkins, Ninja), who take the case, which reveals the secret location of plutonium, and kill one of the Expendables. Very messy revenge ensues.
Also new to the team are Army man Bill the Kid (Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games), a female member (Nan Yu, Speed Racer) and Chuck Norris with just a few lines — none of them, thankfully, political. Absent this go-round are Mickey Rourke and Steve Austin (Maximum Conviction, Tactical Force). You won't miss them, because there's so much going on, including an airport siege that proves a highlight.
I loved that Dolph Lundgren (Red Scorpion, One in the Chamber) gets more screen time, but lamented that Jet Li (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) all but disappears after the opening. Other than that, The Expendables 2 seems to know what it’s doing, and is in on its own joke, making direct, verbal references to Rambo, Die Hard, The Terminator and the Chuck Norris Facts meme.
Among the extras in Lionsgate’s bulky Blu-ray release, the tops is the 25-minute documentary "Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980s and the Rise of the Action Film,” which is exactly what it sounds like: an overview of he-man cinema in the Reagan era. I could go for a feature-length examination of the subject, just as I could go for The Expendables 3. —Rod Lott
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