Bruce Willis is one of a bevy of action stars who appear in the huge blockbuster “The Expendables 2”, which opened over the weekend to mixed reviews. And while they’re all getting a little older, it appears the jokes aren’t.
One of the thing fans love–and have loved–about these films (and the stars) is that they are formulaic and timeless. These are men who have been around for decades, doing the exact same thing, and somehow it almost always works. We want to see these good guys win, because they are an inherent part of our childhoods and formative years. They have become icons in their field, muscle-bound heroes who always save the day, and sometimes in this big bad world, that’s what we need to see most.
“The Expendables 2” is chock full of those stars, the men who made movies like “Rambo” and “Terminator” what they were; and because they have been around for so long, they’ve built up an impressive arsenal of one-liners and inside jokes that never fail to tickle us. It’s like seeing an old friend in a very unexpected place. And when one star–Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance–delivers one of those infamous lines only to be one-upped by one of his co-stars, the result is a new classic.
Schwarzenegger, along with Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, and Jean-Claude Van Damme (among others) have managed, for the most part, to please audiences this time around with a film which emphasizes action and visuals over intelligent story lines or engaging dialogue. But every now and then, they managed to slip in an old, oft-used joke at the expense of their storied careers, and even though we were all expecting a particular line to pop up, Willis managed to turn it on its ear.
“I’ll be back”, Schwarzenegger says.
“You’ve been back enough,” Willis counters. “I’ll be back.”
It’s small, but at the same time significant. These men have built their careers around certain characters, and even though the unexpected is a welcome change in film, this isn’t the place to be different. “The Expendables 2” is just what it promised to be, and nothing more: a fast-paced, loud, blow-everything-up action adventure that showcased every action star we have grown to love over the years and put them right where they belong.