tek's rating:

The Expendables 2 (R)
IMDb; Lionsgate; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: potential minor spoilers.

The first thing I need to spoil is that by the end of the first movie, Gunnar was back on Barney's team. So he's with them on a new mission at the start of the sequel, as is a young ex-Army sniper called Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), a fairly recent addition to the team. They're all staging a typically bad-ass rescue of a Chinese billionaire who's being held prisoner by some bad guys, and in the process they also rescue Trench (who was himself there, independently, for the same reason). After rescuing the billionaire, they can't land their plane in China, so they make the guy parachute out, along with Yin Yang, whom we won't see for the rest of the movie. Later, back in the States, the crew is celebrating a job well done (and Christmas is planning on marrying Lacy, but we only see her very briefly in this movie). Billy has a girlfriend of his own, though we don't see her until a very brief scene at the end of the movie. Anyway, he was planning on leaving the team, I guess to spend more time with her. But he wanted to "finish out the month." (Barney's team doesn't seem like the kind of group that would have a regular work schedule, so it's kind of weird to think in such mundane terms, but it's necessary for the plot.)

Anyway, Church contacts Barney, and he's very upset about how things had worked out in the mission from the first movie. But he says they'll be square if Barney and his team perform another job for him. And he has a new addition for the team: a CIA agent named Maggie Chan. The team goes to Albania to recover an item from a safe in a plane which had been shot down. Soon after getting it, they're ambushed by a gang of mercenaries called the Sangs, led by a guy named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). He takes the item from them, and also gives them a very personal reason to want revenge against him. Much bad-assery ensues, of course. And in the process of taking down the Sangs, they also help rescue villagers who had been forced into slave labor by the mercenaries. The team also receives some unexpected help from a lone wolf named Booker (Chuck Norris). And in the final battle, they receive help from both Church and Trench.

I guess that's all I want to say about the plot, but the movie was a bit better-received, critically, than the first one. And I think that's fair. Both movies are chock-full of bad-ass action and bad-ass action stars. Both have a fair amount of humor and heart, though neither movie is exactly Shakespeare, y'know? But I do think the second is slightly better than the first. (There's also a third movie, which I haven't seen yet.)

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