Film / The Expendables 2

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The 2012 sequel to The Expendables.

Opening with a mission to rescue a Chinese diplomat and introducing the new member to the team Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), Church confronts Barney and demands a new mission to redeem him from the issue with how he handled the job in the previous movie. They are paired with Maggie Chan (Yu Nan) to recover sensitive information regarding a secret plutonium stockpile in Eastern Europe. Their mission is upset by Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a terrorist for hire leading his own team including his second in command Hector (Scott Adkins). Vilain humiliates the team and leaves one of them dead, with the rest vowing revenge. They chase after Vilain to stop his plans and are joined by lone wolf ally Booker (Chuck Norris) to finish the job.


The Expendables 2 provides examples of:

  • Ascended Meme: Chuck Norris' character in general. He shows up and destroys an army by himself. Lampshaded with one of the Chuck Norris Facts (the one about the King Cobra) used as a legend about the character.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The three armored vehicles used by the team in the beginning of the movie. Part truck, part battering ram, rounded off with ironic phrases spray painted on their business ends. ("COMING SOON", "KNOCK KNOCK", "BAD ATTITUDE".) And speaking of '80s references, it's probably not a coincidence that "Bad Attitude" (B.A.) looks like something The A-Team would have built, and is driven by the black member of the team...
  • Badass Preacher: Invoked when Christmas shows off his martial arts skills while disguised as a priest.
    Lee: By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you... Man and knife.
    (Proceeds to unload knife frenzy on some rooks...)
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Barney an Lee visit one to get information.
  • Bad to the Bone: Chuck Norris' first two appearances in the film draw a Leitmotif from another, older, badass - namely, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Yang/Jet Li. The film puts an emphasis on this by giving him an entire sequence where he takes out an entire squad this way. He also used a pair of frying pans.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Vilain captures the entire Expendables team early in the movie. Then, in defiance of any plausible logic, he lets them go for absolutely no reason, killing only the youngest and most inexperienced member of the team before they leave.
  • Call Back:
    • A good portion of the movie features dialogue specifically referencing moments in the first film, including: a direct reference to Vilena, Yang and Gunnar "I would have winned" exchange, Gunnar referring to people as "insect", and Caesar's famous AA-12 shows up in the first scene.
      Gunnar: Did you win?
      Yang: Of course I win.
    • Ross, like Tool before him, is given a chance to save women. Unlike Tool, he takes the opportunity.
  • Celebrity Paradox: "Who's next, Rambo?"
  • Cigar Chomper: Both Ross and Trench are frequently seen with a cigar.
  • Combat Breakdown: Played straight and then inverted in the final fight between Barney and Vilain. They start out trading bullets, but then decide to put their guns away after Vilain runs out of bullets, and Vilain even throws away the knife he took from Barney so they can fight bare-handed. But as the fight progresses, Vilain gets desperate enough that he actually snatches the knife back up to defend himself, and Barney counters by grabbing a heavy chain and using it as a weapon.
  • Demoted to Extra / Put on a Bus: Scheduling issues with Jet Li resulted in his character Yin Yang not appearing beyond the opening scene.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: "You gave me a shit job, I'm gonna shoot you in the face when I see you!"
  • Dynamic Entry:
    • Trench plus a small tunnel-boring machine during the sequel.
    • And, of course, the intro, featuring KNOCK-KNOCK, a giant battering ram on a jeep.
  • Feeling Their Age: Brought up with the addition of a mid-20's team member Billy who has more enthusiasm and energy than the rest of the team combined. His older teammates are certainly not in bad shape themselves, but there is a distinct difference in their lumbering pace compared to Billy jogging up a hill.
  • Finger Gun: Exaggerated in one scene, when Barney treats his Finger Gun as if it were actually his revolver, complete with cocking the 'hammer'; subverted when all the baddies he 'fires' it at fall over dead as though he actually shot them; then double subverted when it turns out all the bullets were actually fired by Friendly Sniper Billy the Kid.
  • From Bad to Worse: The heroes get pinned down during a firefight, and Barney mentions that the only way they could win is if they have a tank. The bad guys then roll out a tank.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: While the movie offers up a lot of blood spatter, we cut away during the bit where Maggie performs some painful Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on a Sang mook.
  • He Had a Name: this is used during the confrontation between Barney and Vilain.
  • He's Back: Arnold Schwarzenegger, both in-story and metafictionally - this was one of his first roles, after his tenure as Governor of California ended.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Gunnar clearly has a huge crush on Maggie, but he is just too awkward and drunk around her to make any sort of sense.
  • Hollywood Density:
    • The plutonium in the second film is handled easily; one man was shown to casually carry three rather large "bars" in his hands in one scene. In reality these bars are sealed storage containers, and are usually made from thick lead-lined steel, weighing no less than 20 kilo each.
    • What actually makes them lighter than plutonium bars, because plutonium is one and half density of lead.
    • Even worse, it looks like there's just about 200 cylinders with the plutonium. So each cylinder should contain around 25kg of plutonium and the critical mass of plutonium is around 10kg for a perfect sphere. So these cylinders would be very close to it. And then the villains stack them in a regular hexagonal grid. Can you say "criticality accident"?
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • When he runs out of bullets, Yang does work with some frying pans.
    • Christmas makes use of a thurible(!) while disguised as a Catholic priest. Not to mention Ross and Caesar's use of an artillery shell as a hand thrown weapon...
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "You look nervous."
    • "Question is, will you die like a man, or a sheep?"
    • "Now, what?" First spoken by Ross right before Billy is killed... later is spoken by Vilain right before he killed by Ross.
  • It's Personal: Billy's death makes the mission to retrieve the plutonium this for the team.
    Lee: What's the plan?
    Ross: Track 'em. Find 'em. Kill 'em.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Church is not a nice guy and he and Barney do not like each other. Still, when Billy is killed he offers sympathy to Barney and decides to give him more support. He also specifically told Ross to make sure no harm comes to Maggie. It appears that he's usually only concerned about fellow CIA agents.
  • Lighter and Softer: There were rumors and even an official statement saying they were making the sequel PG-13. Probably due to the fandom backlash they ultimately went back on that idea and the movie is rated R like the original. It's been also said that the PG-13 was due to the removal of so much swearing in the script, a condition made by Chuck Norris before he'd join in. The final movie does have virtually no cursing, a contrast to the occasional Cluster F Bombs from the first.
  • MacGuffin: The plutonium.
  • Mexican Standoff: The Expendables get into this situation early on with Vilain and his men
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It gets a 9, due to all the blood splatter, a couple of exploding heads, and death by helicopter blades. It's all pretty light-hearted, though.
  • Mood Whiplash: Lamshaded and used in-universe. Maggie notes how the team bounces between light-hearted humor and dark nihilism concerning themselves. Barney notes that at this point they just try to keep things light for as long as they can, but they get pitch black dark when it's time to get serious.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The monstrous bad guy played by Jean-Claude Van Damme in the sequel is named Vilain. So basically "Villain" if it were pronounced with a French accent.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ross and Vilain's fight at the end of the second film is suitably brutal.
  • Obviously Evil: Van Damme's character’s last name is "Vilain", which is basically the word "villain" with a Francophone accent. He is in fact a villain with a Francophone accent. Even Ross seems shocked at the idea. As if it weren't enough, Vilain used a satanic pentagram with goat horns as his gang's symbol!
  • Off with His Head!: Billy's headshots disintegrates heads in the beginning of the movie, and Ross later does it to Vilain.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Vilain manages to get the drop on Barney and his crew in the sequel, and after a lengthy standoff, Barney agrees to drop their weapons and hand over the device. Vilain then expresses his respect for Barney and leads his men away. Then he kills Billy as an afterthought to remind Barney that "respect must be earned."
  • Red Right Hand: Vilain and his Dragon both have big neck pentacle tattoos with a goat (which, as Vilain helpfully reminds us, is Satan's pet).
  • Red Shirt: The interviews and promotional material of the film made it clear that the plot would revolve around the team avenging the death of, "one of their own." Looking at the cast, it was the guys from the first film and Thor's little brother. No points for guessing who gets the axe.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Mr. Church recaps the team's exploits in the original movie while talking to Barney.
  • Retirony: Billy talks about how he's going to retire at the end of the month, he doesn't even make it to the end of the next day.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Billy the Kid is brutally tortured and killed right in front of his crew by Vilain.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Yin Yang drops out early in the film to deliver a Chinese national, though, in his words, there's a fifty-fifty chance he might make the separation from the team permanent.
  • Self-Deprecation: At the very end of the movie, when Church gives Barney an An-2 biplane:
    Barney: That thing belongs in a museum!
    Trench: We all do.
  • Sinister Shades: In part 2, Vilain spends pretty much the entire movie wearing sunglasses, even when underground in a mine. He only takes them off when he's preparing to face Ross in a hand to hand combat fight to the death.
  • Stupid Surrender: The Expendables find themselves in a Mexican Standoff with Vilain and his goons early in the movie. Rather then try to negotiate their way out or simply start shooting and hope for the best, they surrender because Vilain has captured one of their teammates and they are concerned he will be killed. This ignores the obvious fact that once they put their weapons down, there is nothing stopping Vilain from killing the captive anyway, which is exactly what happens. Fortunately for the team, Vilain displays Bond Villain Stupidity by letting the rest of them walk away.
  • Tranquil Fury: Ross while taking out Vilain.
  • The Villain Makes the Plot: Van Damme received a lot of praise for his role as the bad guy.
  • Worthy Opponent: Jean Vilain considers Barney one of these. Unlike many examples of this trope, however, that doesn't mean he is nice to Barney, and he kills Billy just to remind Barney that "respect must be earned."


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