“The Expendables are back in a sequel that J. Rentilly of MensHealth.com calls “a high-octane adventure with non-stop action!” The team signs on for a mission that looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But things quickly go wrong, and one of their own is killed by a psychotic terrorist-for-hire. Hell-bent on payback, they cut a swatch of destruction through enemy territory and wreak havoc upon their opponents. In the midst of the mayhem, they must also shut down an unexpected threat in the nick of time – preventing five tons of weapons-grade plutonium from falling into the wrong hands.”
The Expendables 2 begins in the most explosive way imaginable, with an action-packed rescue mission that exceeds every single scene of the first film. It’s a hell of a way to start, and we know we are in for the ride of our lives.
Once the team is back home, Barney (Sylvester Stallone) has an unexpected visit from Church (Bruce Willis), who has come to collect on a debt Barney owes from the last job he did for him. This entails tracking the location of a plane that was shot down and retrieving an item from the wreckage. Accompanying the team on the journey is Maggie (Nan Yu), a skilled fighter with the required expertise to retrieve the documents from the wreckage.
As the team travels around the globe and discovers the documents inside the plane, they are ambushed by Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who kills one of Barney’s men and steals the documents, which they discover to be a map of a mine which housed large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium. Vowing vengeance, Barney and his team are eager to track them down. They learn the location of Vilain’s mine, as well as a small town Vilain has used for slave labor who are eager to get rid of him and his men. After the team fends off an attack on the town, Barney promises to find the captured men and release them.
This leads to the most action-packed third act that I’ve ever seen. Larger in scale, violence, body count, everything. This is the culmination of everything we wanted the first film to be, and they finally get it right.
The Expendables 2 surpasses the first film in every single category. The writing is better; with a plot that is coherently laid out and fluid, not a bunch of randomness like the first film seemed to be. Characters are developed much more here, giving each member of the team something real to work with, not just a fight scene to show off their fighting skills. It’s the little details they took great care in placing, like Randy Couture reading books, Terry Crews cooking, Dolph Lundgren being a genius, all make these characters seem much more real and three dimensional.
There are some other newcomers to the action. Chuck Norris has a few over-the-top sequences that are simply amazing. Although they aren’t new to the franchise, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger finally have some great action scenes as well, complete with a few back to back one-liners that are rather tongue in cheek and will either leave you cheering or rolling your eyes, depending on your mood.
Finally, we have some good villains to work with. Although I was never crazy about how on the nose Van Damme’s character name Vilain was, he’s written so much better than villains in the first film. Despite this team of expert mercenaries, you actually believe Vilain is good enough to actually win. Van Damme steals all the scenes he is in, from the intense initial meeting, to the brutal final battle, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
The Expendables 2 is presented in 4k 2160p Ultra High Definition 2.35:1. This transfer seems much better than the first film, which brings some really deep and life-like colors with crisp and clear picture. In this instance, the 4k is definitely a marked improvement.
The Blu-Ray is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen 2.35:1.
The audio on the 4k disc is presented in Dolby Atmos. Like the first film, this is one of the great things about the disc. Since everything is bigger in the second film, the Atmos track is the perfect way to hear the difference with intense explosions and gun battles. You’ll want to turn your system up a couple notches for the third act to be sure you are totally immersed in the action.
On this set there are special features on both discs. These are some great short documentaries and featurettes that any action fan will want to view. You get some great information, especially on the history of action heroes in cinema.
On the 4k disc you’ll see:
- Audio Commentary with Director Simon West
- Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Antiheroes
- Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980s and the Rise of the Action Film
On the Blu-Ray Disc you’ll see:
- On the Assault: The Real-Life Weaponry of The Expendables 2
- Guns For Hire: The Real Expendables
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
The Expendables 2 finally hits the mark with the action film that fans wanted. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, and this 4k release makes it more enjoyable delivering beautiful picture and sound to this action-packed film.