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Expendables 2, The (Blu-ray Review)

16 Nov, 2012 By: John Latchem

Street 11/20/12
Box Office $84.96 million
$29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence throughout.
Stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It’s only fitting that Arnold Schwarzenegger would herald his return to the big screen in this film, proclaiming loudly and proudly, “I’m back!”

Schwarzenegger had a cameo in the first film, made when he was still governor of California, but now expands his role to get a bit more involved in the action alongside Sylvester Stallone and his all-star team of mercenaries. Bruce Willis also gets a bigger role as the CIA honcho sending these guys into hostile territory. By the time Chuck Norris shows up to save the day, there’s nothing left for the film to do but wink at the audience.

The plot this time around is much more focused than the first film, thanks to a tighter script. After blowing away what seems like half the population of Nepal, Stallone and his team are sent to retrieve a map containing the location of a cache of weapons-grade plutonium left over from the Cold War, but are intercepted by an international terrorist played by Jean-Claude Van Damme. After a tense standoff, Stallone vows revenge, and more gunfights ensue. Half the film’s budget must have been spent on ammunition, so it’s kind of a relief to see Stallone and Van Damme resort to fisticuffs in their final confrontation. But seriously, the body count is so high they could spend the entirety of Expendables 3 having to clean up everything.

The Blu-ray actually includes some interesting extras for the hardcore action movie fan the “Expendables” franchise is aiming for. The one trying to be the most insightful is “Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980s and the Rise of the Action Film,” a 25-minute documentary that explores the evolution of the genre, in particular the films that star the cast of The Expendables 2 (with particular focus on Stallone and Schwarzenegger).

Fans of the Second Amendment will appreciate the featurette “On the Assault: The Real-Life Weaponry of The Expendables,” in which Randy Couture visits The Gun Store in Las Vegas and takes target practice with several assault rifles, which are given an in-depth profile. It’s something to keep in mind when planning that next trip to Vegas.

Along similar lines is the “Guns for Hire: The Real Expendables” featurette, which profiles real-life mercenaries and private security firms.

The making of the film is covered in “Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes,” as well as director Simon West’s commentary. The biggest revelation here is how the movie had to be structured to fit the varied schedules of the different action stars — explaining why Jason Statham or Jet Li would be separated from the group, or why every scene between Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone features them in the same frame (to give the fans their money’s worth).

The package is rounded out by about five minutes of deleted scenes, the most interesting of which involves why the group calls itself the Expendables.

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