The Expendables 2 (2012)
Here we go, my last Arnold movie. Not sure why I didn't end up seeing this in the theater, I enjoyed the first one well enough, just never got around to it. Been looking forward to this one for quite a while though and hoping that the performances are a little better this time around. Stallone did a damn fine job directing fast-paced action, but he really didn't get good performances out of his cast, particularly himself. Arnold's scene in the first one was awesome at first and then quickly became irritating as soon as he started talking. I know the dude was only on set for 4 hours, but wow. Need to at least try.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this. There was the occasional bit of questionable acting and the CGI blood splatter was distracting, but all in all I think they pulled it off very well. I like that they took their time much more than the first one. The action is great, but it's the character moments and banter that I wind up remembering most. Very satisfying in that regard and much less forced than the first time around. I actually quite liked Gale in this and thought he was a great addition to the crew and did an excellent delivery of his background story. His genuine manner made that scene play much better than I expected when he started into it, they just offed him too quickly, and it was a jarringly stupid thing for Jean-Claude to do right then. I'm good with him not surving the movie, but we were just beginning to see the fun potential of contrasting him against the veterans when he's suddenly gone.
Too many fun moments to list, but highlights for me were Arnold showing up at the beginning with a great delivery of the "Oh, this is embarrasing" line, Chuck taking out everything including the tank (and the reactions of everyone else), Jet & Jason's respective fight sequences, and of course the end battle with Arnold, Stallone, and Bruce all kicking butt together. Much much less forced having them together in this one than it had been previously. I sincerely hope they can have all 3 of them share equal time the next go around, get past all of the admittedly fun one-liners, and just have them play off of each other as straight up co-stars. We've still never really had that yet, but this was a great step in the right direction.
As for Arnold, he seemed to be having fun, but was bordering on phoning it in from an acting standpoint. He had some great one-liners and his comedic timing was excellent, but the lines where he's just talking were really flat and stilted, even for him. I'd imagine much of that is due to his not having been around for much of the production, but his scenes didn't feel out of place compared to the first one. Still showing excellent physical acting chops after all this time was fantastic to see him taking out folks with the automatic cannon.
Special nod to Jean-Claude, who really made the most of his opportunity to be back in the limelight. His portrayal of Stereotypical Bad Guy was excellent and kept his character's motivations tight and simple. Other than stupidly killing off Gale (which could serve no purpose than invite revenge), everything he did was perfectly plausible and he did just enough talking about money to let us know what he was all about. I do like that he got a chance to do his high kicks and roundhouses, and as much as I really enjoyed his fight sequence with Stallone, I felt that was a completely blown opportunity. When he's out of ammo and taunting Stallone with "Man or sheep", I wanted to yell "kill him!" at the screen. It's so obvious we're going to have The Fight like every other damn movie, it would have been so fun for Stallone to just say "Sheep" and shoot him between the eyes. Argh. But such are the conventions of the genre and at least we did get to see a fun fight sequence.
Ahnold Quotient - 8
Wasn't showing off the bod (not necessarily a bad things these days), but plenty of hamming it up, one-liners, and shooting the crap out of people. Much much more satisfying in that regard than the first and glad we finally got that action scene we were hoping for out of the trio.
Rewatchability - Sure
Very entertaining and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it. I can see myself popping this one in again before long and might find a place in my extended rotation of movies.
Well, that's it. I'm current with all of Arnold's non-cameo, theatrical release movies. Freaky. I made it past Batman & Robin. That was a very near thing. When I have a moment, I want to go back and add up the total running length of the 28 films I ran through over the past 3 months and think of how many more productive things I could have done with that time. I'm sure it will be completely horrifying and I likely could have learned a new language during that time.
Next up will be The Last Stand sometime this weekend. I'm cautiously optimistic, but trying not to get my hopes up. My enjoyment of the movie will largely hinge on whether Arnold phoned in his performance or not.