The first question we have to ask about The Expendables 2 is this: why are Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham et al called the Expendables, anyway? One of them is killed early on – a new team member who might as well have been named Cannon Fodder – but the others are so far from expendable that nothing can hurt them. In the opening sequence, Stallone is shot twice, but he wins a fist fight in the following scene, and he doesn't mention his wounds again. Not long afterwards, he flies his plane into the side of a mountain for no particular reason. His buddies in the fuselage bump around a bit, as if the captain had just announced a spot of turbulence, but they all disembark without a scratch.
Now, you might argue that this Tom & Jerry violence is what The Expendables 2 is all about. As in the previous film, Stallone's motley crew of mercenaries includes such action has-beens as Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li. There are also cameos from Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris, and Stallone's old Planet Hollywood co-owners, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, show up to parrot their catchphrases from Die Hard and The Terminator. In short, it's not the sort of film you should take too seriously. Indeed, it's barely a film at all. Statham and Van Damme still have the knowing charisma and balletic athleticism to convince as action stars, but the others treat The Expendables 2 as a backslapping reunion party – so maybe it doesn't matter that its heroes all seem to be bulletproof.
But there comes a point when the movie's what-the-hell attitude to the laws of physics works against it: if the goodies can spray an airport with machine-gun fire for 10 minutes without grazing a single innocent bystander, then it's difficult to give a monkey's about what happens next. There are some tonal problems, too, because sometimes, in between the chirpy massacres, The Expendables 2 decides it wants to be moody and soulful. Hypocritically, it expects us to weep for Stallone's fallen comrade, but then it expects us to laugh at Arnie & Bruce's Grumpy Old Men routine a minute later.
It was the latter that had me weeping, though. It doesn't seem long since these guys were starring in classic action movies, so to see them coasting smugly through a film that doesn't merit a cinema release is enough to bring a tear to the eye.
The Wedding Video is a British romantic comedy done Blair Witch-style – that is, the film that we're watching is supposedly shot by one of the characters. Specifically, it's shot by Rufus Hound, the rambunctious brother and best man of Robert Webb, who is due to marry Lucy Punch in a few weeks' time. As a wedding present for the bride and groom, Hound volunteers to document the build-up with his new camcorder, little realising that what he'll capture for them is a spiral of mayhem.
That's the idea, anyway. In fact, there isn't much mayhem, after all. There are some slightly amusing scenes with Punch's social-climbing mother (Harriet Walter) and her efforts to turn the big day into Cheshire's Wedding of The Year. But most of the upsets are small beer compared with the prenuptial disasters we've seen on television in Peep Show, The Worst Week of My Life, and Gavin & Stacey. The three affable stars make the most of their underwritten roles, and Hound, especially, exhibits some appropriately puppy-doggish charm. But a genuine wedding video would probably be funnier.Reuse content