The Expendables served as a bridge; it worked as the link between those that were thoughts, about to become accidents, or in diapers in the eighties, with those that happened to be in their prime; and they all love the same machismo action movies.

This sequel, The Expendables 2, is what happens when all these die hard meat eaters reach the other side…

Sylvester Stallone had a hard time getting the first one done, which probably just made him work harder, out of spite, or pride, or a chilling combination of both, and therefore he produced a high-quality action yarn not just proving everyone wrong, but he made a boat-load of moola from a film he co-wrote with Dave Callaham (from his story) and directed himself.

Not so much push back came about when Sly wanted to make a sequel, for he didn't just create a franchise (let the clamoring for a third one begin): Stallone made a cash cow. And everyone wants a piece of it now. You can hear Sly saying I told you so with one of his vintage stares.

The Expendables 2 picks up right where the last pedal-to-the-metal flick left us-with the hammer down, they scream out of the gate. The dialogue is exceptionally bad-with more humor coming from the writings on the fit-for-violence vehicles than the mouths of the characters-yet the action still kicks your teeth in.

The whole gang is back, too. Well, sort of. Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture are the primary pieces of the team onscreen. Jet Li shows up for the opening number, a rescue mission exposition, and then drops out, quite literally, as soon as it's over.

Strangely missing from this motion picture, also, is Mickey Rourke, for he was a pretty prominent part of the first Expendables flick, and he carried his share of weight, including a fairly heavy monologue on the effects of conflict on one's soul that cut to the bone. He's sorely missed.

New to this team of guns-for-hire are Liam Hemsworth (Thor's kid brother or Mr. Miley Cyrus; you decide), as an ex-Afghan-war sniper, and the team's first female addition, played by Nan Yu.

Other bit parts-ones that'll get the blood pumping by their mention alone-are those of Bruce Willis, who's this time gets involved in the field work, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a supporting role that does indeed tell us he's back during some surprising sequences, and new-comer Chuck Norris, who portrays a quote lone wolf who, in his words, eventually starts running with the pack.

What's the story, you ask?-as if they even need one with this roster. Stallone again co-writes, this time with the help of Richard Wenk, from a story crafted by Wenk, Ken Kaufman and David Agosto, all based on the characters created by Dave Callaham.

And what starts as a routine mission, if you ever believed it'd be that boring, turns into a revenge saga after one of the group goes down, as in gets killed in action. Now payback is in order.

But the villain is what makes this especially juicy: One Jean-Claude Van Damme-and he's the one that does the killing, in a manner memorable in every way.

There's a lot more to this, but I'll save the details for you to discover on your own. Yet I must tease you with this: Sly Stallone and JCVD fighting almost makes this equal the end of the original. Almost being the key word.

Stallone employs a director, as well, instead of inhabiting the chair, and Simon West (Con Air, The Mechanic remake) delivers with his own unique style that fits the bill.

Yet, as usual, Sly emerges as the star, as his Barney Ross again serves as the unselfish restorer of order who, like in the first Expendables, ends up on his own going back home solo, with only his bros as company, apparently awaiting the next assignment. You got to hand it to Stallone for subtly hiding such a selfless subtext into an action epic like The Expendables 2, just as he did with its predecessor.

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