Brain-at-door. Big-dumb-entertainment-at-the-ready: you just can’t take this sequel seriously. If you do, shame on you as you miss out on one of this year’s silliest, pumped-up homage’s to 80s/90s action-hero flicks going. If we say there is one scene that sees former Terminator Schwarzenegger walking in defiant formation next to Die Hard Willis and Rambo Stallone, spraying bullets wilfully as they go into a barrage of baddies, just the description alone is cause for glee. As for the script, it stinks – but who really cares, when any reference (however corny) to the action heroes that made the stars household names makes you simultaneously groan with despair while inwardly being thrilled.
Barney Ross (Stallone) and his merry, muscular mercenaries for hire find themselves back from one bloody job and straight onto another, courtesy of Mr Church (Willis) that should be an easy paycheck. However, even with crack, new female team member Maggie (Nan Yu) in tow, life was never going to be a walk in the jungle when one of Ross’s guys gets murdered on the job. Ross and co makes it their quest to get revenge, placing them deep in enemy territory with some familiar faces on route.
The opener plays like a Rambo video game with no head-popping, claret explosion spared. It’s a bloody fantastic reminder of how serious the Ross boys are in getting the job done. In amongst the baddie exterminations are brief snippets of how each member ticks alongside the other for those new to the franchise – so don’t worry, as this film almost spoofs its original, which makes it even more enjoyable to watch and easy for newcomers to dive straight into.
The trump card is the cast members Stallone has drawn to his last escapade that include the above fore-mentioned, but also Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. The latter pair steals most scenes they are in, the former with bizarre ‘lone wolf’ fighting comments related to his Garret and McCoy days, and the latter who has thawed from the Coors mountain ice to ‘evil up’ with chilling/hilariously camp effect. There are just a few action heroes who are missing like Segal and The Rock, perhaps petrol head Vin Diesel, but watch this space… Plenty of baddie blood yet to spill, and always some other dictatorial nut job wanting to rule the planet.
Without singling out each combat scene of varying fighting degrees for a variety of action tastes, does Version 2 quench the action thirst other recent action films with their OTT CGI fail to? The answer is simply yes. Stallone and action-directing aficionado Simon West have consciously made a no-brainer box office killer for this week’s cinemagoer to thoroughly enjoy as it stands, sweat, sores and all – the poster alone says it all.
By Lisa Giles-Keddie