Sunday, August 26, 2012

‘Expend’ your Youthful Side

Sylverster Stallone's Expendables 2 movie poster
When Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro were casted in Heat 21 years after The Godfather: Part II, the moviesphere tingled. The full cast may have been among the most star-studded ever. Until The Expendables 2: Sly, Arnold, Willis, Van Damme, Jet Li, Statham, Chuck Norris, Gale from The Hunger Games and the Russian from Rocky IV. Beyond combining the greatest cast of 80’s action stars and developing the second most gory American film (behind Rambo), Sylvester Stallone also broke records for taking the most steroids and wearing the worst mustache, excluding Hitler and Michael Jordan.

Expendables 2 was hilarious. It made fun of its genre, cast’s average age, and the Russian from Rocky IV because he’s the Russian from Rocky IV. The characters were based on the perception of the actors who played them, and sometimes referenced lines from old blockbusters.

Arnold Schwarzenegger—my childhood hero behind Ken Griffey, Jr., and O.J. Simpson—glowed in his return to Hollywood. If I could change anything from the last decade it would be Arnold remaining an actor instead of the Governator; getting a second cancer would earn honorable mention. I can’t wait to see his upcoming films, and only hope he gets hold of Sly’s steroids so he can play the Social Security version of Terminator.

Still, Expendables 2 succeeds because of Sly and Statham’s friendship. Their characters, Barney Ross and Lee Christmas, share an understanding of their jobs and place in the world that the rest don’t. Sly is dark and unwilling to grasp the light. I wanted to shout at the screen, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!”

The death toll and kill methods were spectacular, as expected from that talented group. The movie blended the unrealistic gunfire of old with modern, realistic fight sequences, leading to some awesome decapitations.

Some critics did not enjoy Expendables 2 because they take their jobs too seriously. My friend, T-Unit, would be proud of my matured film critiquing abilities over the years, but in this instance that all gets trashed in favor of a fun ride. Damon, Leo and Gosling now rule Hollywood, but Sly et al will always remain precious. We have waited long enough to see those studs together, and I hope they continue on with this series with one addition: Mel Gibson. Even he can change!