Originally Posted by Karlos
Having just seen Exp2, I figured, why not share my thoughts with you guys.
After being away from the forum for a while, what better to return to the fold than to wax lyrical about a film most of us here have been patiently waiting for?
I was one of the few on here who really enjoyed Exp1 (even more so in it’s extended director’s cut form), and the follow-up was my most eagerly awaited film of the summer – yup, even more than AVENGERS, TDKR and, of course, SPARKLE.
And, for me, it mostly didn’t disappoint. I had a blast with it, for sure, but there are still problems.
Once again, the plot is wafer thin and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After the events of part 1, The Expenda-gang has gained a new member (Liam Hensworth’s sniper, Billy), lost another (Mickey Rourke’s Tool) and is now in debt to Mr Church (Brucey), who’s come a-knocking, wanting payback.
The routine mission he gives them goes wrong when an unexpected second group turn up (led by JCVD and Scott Adkins) and a resutling death in the family means it’s now personal for Sly and the boys.
The film kicks off with a supremely confident, bombastic and just plain awesome sequence with our heroes charging into Nepal on a rescue mission. Cue 15 minutes of solid insanity, the kind most other action films would kill to have for a climax, let alone an opening.
Straight away we can see that in the hands of new director Simon West, the action is shot clearly. There is no shaky cam here (the modern day bane of out favourite genre), and for that we should be thankful.
This sequence houses some great moments, especially Jet Li’s stand-out battle against a horde of enemy soldiers. He takes them on with machine gun, knife, pistol, Kung Fu and finally, a pair of frying pans in a blistering display that is easily his stand-out moment of the whole franchise.
Generally, it feels more of an ensemble than part 1, which was focused mostly on Sly and The Stath, but not everyone gains - Couture still draws the short straw. Given little to do again, and Crews gets much less screen time than he did in the first.
Perhaps more so than anyone this time round, it’s Dolph’s Gunnar who gets to steal the show a lot of the time and he’s pretty great in this, with some clever referencing of the real life Dolph in some scenes, and the big guy is clearly having a ton of fun.
After a middling section with some (it has to said) appalling dialogue, the film gets back on track, leading to an all-out end battle in an airport, where the film maximises it’s special returning guests, Bruce and Arnie, with super special guest star, none other than Chuck Norris.
Now, some have called the film out on this, if you like, “fan casting”. Critics have said Chuck (and, to a lesser extent, Bruce and Arnie), add nothing to the film apart from self-referential jokes and nods to past flicks.
It’s charge that’s hard to argue against but in a way that’s missing the point: for an action film like me (and possibly, you), it’s the chance to see the big 3 finally all together, doing what they do best, and for a film geek it’s a sight to behold, with Chuck’s appearance – which is actually quite sweet and quite funny, I thought – the manly icing on the macho cake.
And what of the other new big name addition to the fold – JCVD? Well, he’s fantastic. I’ve often said that, of his contemporaries, he’s become by far and away the best actor and here he really lets himself have a lot of fun. His Jean Vilain is at once creepy, funny, loose, and menacing.
His fight with Sly is pretty good fun, too, as they wail on each other. And do I detect a hint of real-life animosity coming into play?
Adkins, as JC’s main henchman, gets his only real moment in a fight with Statham, although he very kindly brought his Boyka accent along for the ride.
As I said eariler, there are still flaws – namely, some of the action is shot too close and too fast - this seemed most evident in the Adkins/Statham fight and also the Couture and Crews skirmishes and there’s some very poor dialogue on display at times.
There’s also some plot points here and there that are set up and never paid off but these were nothing ruinous.
But ultimately, Exp2 delivers what we expected it would – better in some places than the first, but still missing a few things that one had (a consistency of tone and Mickey Rourke), but overall, it’s a big, dumb fun experience that I recommend to anyone who wants a 90 minute return trip to the action movie you created in your mind back when you were a kid.