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Expendables 2 is being billed as the perfect blend of big muscles and bigger explosions. With a solid A- CinemaScore, moviegoers seem to think it delivers on that promise.
The followup to Sylvester Stallone’s 2010 testosterone-filled blockbuster sees action icons Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture team up to stop Jean-Claude Van Damme’s villain from acquiring nuclear material.
But how did it fair with the critics?
With the film receiving a 66 percent Rotten Tomatoes score (the original scored 41 percent), most critics agree the sequel is an improvement.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Justin Lowe praised Stallone and his co-screenwriter Richard Wenk for wrangling the expansive cast: “[The screenwriters] have generously given both major players and cameo actors their own often quite -humorous character traits and dialogue. When Schwarzenegger is onscreen, much of the banter is at the former California governor’s expense — though, much as ever, he gets some memorable lines himself.”
Lowe wrote that director Simon West, who took over helming duties from Stallone, deftly managed “the complexity of stunts, aircraft and vehicle pileups and frequent shootouts.”
New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger had little good to say about the film, save for the cameo by Norris.
“Mr. Norris arrives just as the blood baths and leaden dialogue are beginning to grow tedious, and his deadpan self-parody is pretty darn funny,” Genzlinger wrote. “More important, it gives you permission to laugh at the rest of this mindless movie, which is the only way to choke it down.”
L.A. Times critic Betsy Sharkey wrote that “somehow all that testosterone-infused blow-‘-em-up craziness turns out to be kind of a kick.” She added “what gives ‘Expendables 2’ its charm is the film’s unabashed nostalgia for the genre’s best B-movie moments. As Statham’s character puts it so well while slipping on a pair of brass knuckles, never count out the classics.”
Writing for USA Today, Claudia Puig mused the sequel succeeded in playing off the audience’s fond memories of movies past.
“These movies are not meant to be anything more than silly fun, with an all-star cast of mature hunks engaging in shameless action flick clichés and capitalizing on audience nostalgia,” she wrote.
New York Post critic Lou Lumenick praised the film’s wonderfully cheesy action one-liners.
“It’s hard not to like a movie in which Bruce Willis’ toupee-less CIA agent accuses Stallone’s ragtag band of mercenaries of engaging in “male pattern badness,” he wrote. “Willis actually picks up a weapon or two this time around, and hilariously shares a tiny mini-car with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who fires off a nonstop series of ‘Terminator’-themed quips when he isn’t plowing tractors through mountainsides.”