Expendable Morality?

I’m probably not the best person to review The Expendables 2, not being a particular fan of its genre to begin with, and having a low threshold for screen violence.

To compound matters, I never saw the original Expendables, which apparently garnered a cult following of some size.

Its sequel managed to climb to top spot at the box office the first week of its release, generating $28 million in ticket revenues and eclipsing The Bourne Legacy by a sizeable margin.

What passes for a plot seems to involve an ensemble cast of mercenaries led by Sylvester Stallone, marching into some country or another and shooting up everything in sight.

Quite frankly, it gets awfully boring in extremely short order. But someone obviously likes this kind of stuff.

The film opens with Stallone as mercenary leader Barney Ross, leading his troops in a blaze of machine gun and tank fire as they storm the gates of an army base in Laos to rescue a Chinese businessman.

It’s a plot development that seems to go nowhere.

Without too much in the way of further explanation, they somehow next end up somewhere in Eastern Europe, where they encounter a village bereft of all its men.

The women and children remaining explain that their husbands and fathers have all been abducted by the “Sangs”, (whoever they are), and forced to work as slave labour digging plutonium for them in a nearby mine.

The next major action for Stallone’s team takes place in a Bulgarian airport, as they attempt to stop a rival gang of mercenaries, led by an appropriately-named Jean Vilain (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme of ’90s Timecop and Universal Soldier fame) from escaping in a small plane with a cargo of weapons-grade plutonium.

With its gratuitous ultra-violence, lame plotlines and wooden dialogue, the film’s only possible appeal is the thrill for action film buffs of seeing all their favourite heroes of the ’80s and ’90s, such as Stallone, Van Damme, Bruce Willis and the inevitable Arnold Schwarzenegger all together on-screen.

Otherwise it’s hard to assign any redeeming social value to the likes of The Expendables 2.

Indeed, the case can probably be made that films of its type perpetuate what seems like an eternal American preoccupation with guns and violence.

In mid-August in Columbus, Georgia, a 23-year-old male was apprehended inside a local cinema showing The Expendables 2.

A search of his computer bag revealed a 9mm automatic handgun, along with four knives. Police later found 100 rounds of ammunition in his car.

A mere month earlier, 12 people had been killed at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado.

A stuntman was killed in Bulgaria in an explosion that went awry while The Expendables 2 was being shot last year, and another was seriously injured when an iron bar fell on his head.

Stallone had experienced two other on-set deaths during the making of two of his previous films.

The Washington-based news agency, Catholic News Service, has given The Expendables 2 an “O” rating, which means that it is morally offensive.

I’m with them.

The Expendables 2 plays at the Qwanlin Cinema at 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., and is rated 14A

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