Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Expendables 2 
IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Moore's review -
Let me begin by saying that Expendables 2 (directed by Simon West, screenplay by Richard Wenk and Silvester Stalone) is clearly not going to be up for any Academy Awards come winter this year. There are entire sections of the film that feel like a "1st person shooter" video game (PARENTS DO TAKE NOTE) rightly earning the film a relatively hard-R for violence in the film universe and _definitely_ an M in the video game one.
That said, there is both enough humor and "sappy" trademark Stalone-esque "Rocky style" melodrama in the film, that I'm not at all surprised that it made the top spot in the box office on its opening weekend. Like many Silvester Stalone products, the editing is _superb_, the pacing keeps one from getting bored, and yes, both the often self-deprecating humor and the doses of sappiness, argh! WORK! Yes, THESE "Dogs of War" have a heart. It's Blackwater, Inc wrapped in a "Have a Nice Day" Smiley-Face.
Seriously Silvester Stalone, Bruce Willis, Ahhrnald Schwarzenegger and to a lesser extent Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris (all in this movie) all know this game and give still relative newbies/wannabes like Jason Statham and possibly Jet Li (both also in the film) lessons on how to become truly transcendent "tough guy" superstars.
Still, in my line of work (as a Catholic priest) I do have to say that in my assignments in both Florida and in Chicago, I have met real life "tough guys" (some even who have even done or I'd suspect have done some intelligence work before) who fit the "tough guy" but still "loveable" model. So Stalone and Schwarzenegger (both Catholics incidently), et al, are, in fact, onto something.
Yes, someone like me has to regret the blood in these films/video-games. And the Church has long sought to find ways to divert, dilute, (and more problematically, occasionally sought to utilize) the bloodlust apparent at times in society. Arguably Pope Urban II's call for the First Crusade was to divert the Christian Knights' propensity to fight and kill each other to a "worthier goal" of winning back Jerusalem and the Holy Land. I also wonder if the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role playing game had existed in the time of Richard Wagner fanatic Adolf Hitler's youth, if Hitler and his inner circle Nazi friends, would have been content enough to "form a party" and be 25+ level "fighters", "clerics" and "magic users" in some fantasy world inhabiting the Internet rather than seek to conquer the actual world ...
Yes, I understand that at times this film _is_ appalling. There's even a scene, when, the group finds itself somewhere in Russia (and combating some really evil, bent on stealing plutonium, sort of guys), Jason Statham's character disguises himself as an Eastern Orthodox priest and then kills a bunch of them using, among other things, the Orthodox priest's ever present incensor ;-). And I think then of the similarly violent but also clearly stylized sci-fi-fantasy film called Priest  which was based on a South Korean comic book series where an Order of Catholic-looking Priests (Next to the Philippines, South Korea is probably the most Christian/Catholic nation in East Asia with Vietnam following relatively closely afterwards) used martial arts to vanquish a race of humanity threatening vampires.
All this is to say that this film is clearly not for everybody and yes, it is bloody. But yes, with the twinkle in Stalone's, Willis', Schwarzenegger's, et al's, eyes, I don't think that anybody would really take the film seriously even as it does take-up issues of relatively serious concern -- internationalized mafia networks and nuclear weapons trafficking.
So "Fan boys of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but a few hours (until you'll probably buy the game, after which you'll probably lose a lot more)." And it doesn't surprise me at all that when I checked a couple of my favorite movie sites that I've found since starting my blog, that this film has been a hit among the young in Ireland  and Russia [Eng-Trans] and for the same reasons as it has been popular here in the States. It entertains (and yet remains, _thankfully_, fake ;-).
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