Expendables 2 is the endearingly and pleasurably rubbish film that the first one promised but failed to be. It is terrible but, by the end of this lazy and indulgent celebration of something that didn’t really deserve to be celebrated.

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I had to concede that it had made me smile and chuckle (often intentionally) enough to count as a good time.

Again the film harks back to simpler times, the pre-CGI era when men were steroid-ravaged parodies of masculinity and nobody outside Hong Kong expected any effort, thought or style to be put into action movies. This one is better because this time Schwarzenegger and Willis join in properly, it doesn’t take over an hour to get going and is played entirely for laughs. Having established in the first film that these Expendables were, in fact, Indestructibles, there is no way Stallone could try to peddle any of the maudlin self-pity that dragged down the first one.

The cast is so packed to bursting with famous faces that, instead of a plot, the film is simply a series of unconnected ‘Ta Da’ moments in which every conflict or setback is resolved by the appearance of the next cameo appearance. Possibly the pick of the new faces is Van Damme, looking like a defrocked pantomime dame as the villain; the worst is surely Chuck Norris – the use of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly music to introduce his every appearance is just insulting.

Stallone has got a proper director in this time, Simon (Con Air) West rather than have a go himself – so at least a couple of the action sequences have a bit of zip and life to them. Overall, the film looks even worse than the first one. Everything looks murky and grey and, seen on a full-size central London screen, the picture quality looks like something that has been downloaded illegally off the Internet and run through a projector. I guess this is to disquise the last legs nature of the cast: Dolph Lundgren resembles Tommy Cooper playing Boris Johnson.

Most of the action scenes are just geriatric turkey shoots; the title sequence to Dad’s Army with heavy artillery and a body count as the lads stumble forward and mow down hundreds of henchmen who fling themselves to the floor in approximate synchronicity with a weapon being waved in their direction or explode like they were giant blood-filled balloons.

THE EXPENDABLES 2 (15)

Director: Simon West

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Length: 103 mins

***

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