The contest in “The Expendables 2” is to see what piles up fastest: Spent ammunition casings, stuntmen playing dead, or utterances of catchphrases past.
The band of mercenaries led by Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham are sent into a new mission by the same shadowy CIA chief (Bruce Willis), this time to bring back a secret file from a plane crashed in Albania. But the mission turns sour, and soon Sly & Co. are seeking revenge on Jean-Claude Van Damme’s bad-guy character, named Vilain. (No, really.)
The hacked-up script (Stallone apparently rewrote Richard Wenk’s earlier draft) drags whenever the characters stop to talk, but director Simon West (“Con Air”) makes sure the action sequences are plentiful and over-the-top with flying bullets and spurting blood.
There also are self-referential appearances by Arnold Schwarzenegger (who pairs up with Willis for a few scenes) and Chuck Norris (who gets to tell a Chuck Norris joke), to help audiences exactly how seriously to take this stuff — that is to say, not at all.
‘The Expendables 2’
Now open at theaters everywhere; rated R for strong bloody violence throughout; 102 minutes.