I never watch a trailer until after I’ve seen the movie, and I also attempt to avoid as much news as possible. Then I compare what I knew, to what you knew. Let’s find out if what we see in the trailer is what we get, and if there is any advantage to going in fresh. (There will be spoilers.)
What I Knew Before: The Expendables have expanded. It’s been two years since we’ve last seen our aging wonders. That film left me flat. The plot had all of the makings of a straight-to-DVD flick. Supposedly Sylvester Stallone thought seeing him, Jason Statham, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin and Terry Crews all together was enough to make us believe.
Think about what they’ve done for the sequel. Supposedly they’ve taken the cameo tag away from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I knew they also added Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris. I think what will be most important is they’ve taken control away from Stallone and handed it to an actual action director, Simon West. Then again, Con Air was 15 years ago.
If they’ve added someone else to this testosterone circus, I don’t know it. If they give Couture and Willis equal screen time, they’re fools. I haven’t seen one second of previews, nor has it been difficult to avoid. Come to think of it, there’s a chance I’ve simply imagined this sequel, dyslexia has kicked in, and I’m about to sit down to The Expandables (a documentary about America’s growing waistline).
What I Knew After: Not bad. This is the farewell tour that should have been The Expendables. Here’s another “ex” word to describe this film: excessive. Bullets explode when they hit their victims, and the dialogue couldn’t feel more forced at times, especially for Schwarzenegger. At first it looked like Willis, Schwarzenegger, Norris, Li and Van Damme would be reduced to cameos. But that’s only true for half of them. Liam Hemsworth plays the young one in the group, so they call him Billy. As far as the plot goes, it’s still a waste of time. The middle hour moves pretty slow. Why didn’t they just remake Con Air with this cast? They also could have switched and others could have been good or bad. We didn’t need to spend any more time with the characters, just the actors. Have fun with it. My hunch is the trailer will focus on the new (old) kids to join this geriatric block, and probably not give you one second of plot, even though the film gives you too much. Also, there is some really odd soft lens or odd pixilated zoom used on occasion for close-ups. Perhaps it’s because America wants to see these old guys, but not be that close.
What You Knew: They start things off with a zip line, but Statham and Stallone are surrounded. Luckily, Stallone’s finger is loaded. Oops, I jumped the gun. Stallone’s finger is not a gun, there was a sniper. On-screen: TIME TO RELOAD. The trailer takes this literally instead of figuratively, and everyone reloads their weapon. Statham’s laughable line, “I now pronounce you man and knife,” makes the cut. So does Stallone guiding a motorcycle into a helicopter. On-screen: WHEN THE THREAT IS GREAT. Van Damme is evil, likes bombs and wears sunglasses. On-screen: EVERYONE IS EXPENDABLE. Norris and Schwarzenegger show up, and we begin to realize Schwarzenegger will say anything to remind people he was once a movie star (“I’m back”). On-screen: THIS SUMMER. The vehicles look awesome, I’m even amused by the words slapped on them like, “Knock knock.” Punch, kick, knife throw, smash, shoot, fly, etc. “My shoe is bigger than this car,” says old man Schwarzenegger, just after he ripped the door off. Shoot, fly, punch, etc. Then Stallone decides to fly a plane into a cave. It’s just crazy enough to work! Our final joke, “You’re going to need a new plane.”
Trailer Truth: It’s good the trailer shows the guys on a zip line in the beginning, because watching Stallone run ain’t pretty no more. The film focuses on the inner turmoil of young Billy and his distant love. The film also focuses on having Maggie (Nan Yu) along for the mission, and a small town being forced to work the mines by the evil Van Damme. The trailer fails to mention this.
It’s the correct way to sell it, but it’s not the truth. In fact, the film’s opening and closing action sequences make up roughly 85 percent of this trailer. The trailer also shows you every big moment the movie has to offer. I wish they kept the dialogue as simple as Stallone saying, “Track ’em, find ’em, kill ’em.” They don’t. Also, Lundgren is the film’s comic relief. None of that made the trailer.
Look, I hate when a trailer gives away a film’s best joke (the visual of Willis and Schwarzenegger in a tiny car) or one of the bigger action moments (flying a plane into a cave). It diminishes the film. The most important thing to take away from the trailer is you’ve now seen the best this film can offer. With that said, that feeling of disappointment you had after watching The Expendables won’t expand while watching The Expendables 2.