I wasn't going to review The Expendables 2. It's basically critic proof. What can be said? It's trash, and mostly knows its trash. There's a few fun cameos, cheesy one-liners and a high body count. The acting's universally awful, the narrative schlocky to the extreme (abandoned plutonium!). I didn't like it much at all, but it was a tad better than the first. Just a tad. It does what it says on the tin. Consider that my definitive 'review'.
HOWEVER. Various aspects of the film demand critiquing. It's arguably futile to analyse the directorial identity of a film as proudly dumb as this. You need to compare like with like: not dumb Sylvester Stallone action movies with, say, Terence Malick films. However, I cannot remain silent: The Expendables 2 is the worst made film Hollywood has produced in a long, long time. And I don't mean the content. No, this is a shoddily directed and shot film - almost amateurish in its genuinely surprising lack of technical sheen. I find myself in a rare position to be able to discuss a film's failures in purely subjective form - even ignoring the actual narrative (which will work for some, not work for others) The Expendables 2 is a very, very bad film.
Here I present a series of bullet points outlining why. To me these flaws are largely unforgivable, and a damning indication of the lack of care taken in this production. The Expendables 2 has a number of significant technical and artistic failings, and I feel obliged to report them to anyone who cares enough.
- IT'S OUT OF FOCUS
- VARIABLE PICTURE QUALITY
- APPALLING SPECIAL EFFECTS
- POOR SPATIAL AWARENESS
- A SCRIPT THAT NEEDED ANOTHER DRAFT
These are the five most obvious reasons why The Expendables 2 fails as a piece of cinema (alongside the more obvious one that it's just adolescent nonsense). It's rare to see a high-profile, big-budgeted movie produced with such incompetency. It is a movie that seems to actively ignore the technical basics of filmmaking. Who is responsible is hard to call - with the amount of posthouse tinkering that goes onto far, it's almost impossible to assign blame. I can say this without reservation though: Simon West has directed the most technically inept Hollywood film of recent times. In a film that's so proudly and purposefully dumb, it's staggering that they couldn't even keep the camera in focus.