A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Expendables 2 has even more legendary action stars -- and is quite a bit better -- than The Expendables, so expect boys of all ages to be clamoring to see it. The violence is strong and constant but slightly less nasty than in the first film. Overall the feel is cartoonish, although the characters are motivated by revenge, and there's lots of killing (and fighting, spurting blood, and dead bodies) with no consequences. Language isn't nearly as strong as in the last movie (supposedly due to co-star Chuck Norris' objections) but does include about a half-dozen uses of "s--t." There's some love talk and flirting and a discussion of cheating, but most of the sexual content is mild. A character with a history of chemical dependence takes a drink from a flask from time to time but never appears drunk; some of the main characters smoke cigars. On the plus side, there's a strong female character this time around, in addition to many other improvements.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After an explosive "teaser" to kick things off, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his team of "Expendables" (Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Liam Hemsworth) are called in to pay off a debt; their mission is to retrieve some classified information from a safe in the wreckage of a downed plane. Martial artist Maggie (Nan Yu) comes along to help. Unfortunately, the sinister Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) steals the intel -- the secret location of a store of plutonium -- and puts it to use. Worse, he also kills one of Barney's team members. So the team vows revenge, hopefully saving the world at the same time. Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger join the fun from time to time.
Is it any good?
THE EXPENDABLES 2 is less cruel and vicious than the first movie, concentrating more on explosive, cartoony violence; consequently, the action is much clearer and more effective. Director Simon West (The Mechanic) replaces Stallone at the helm for this sequel to The Expendables, although Stallone still co-wrote the screenplay. Whatever the dynamic of this new combination, it magically fixed most of the problems of the first movie.
Characters are also given more time to interact and banter, which seems impossible given that there are even more of them this time around. Stallone and West give the team plenty of downtime between shootouts to talk about things like last meals. Strangely, the soundtrack is peppered with rather gentle old pop tunes ("Groovin'," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," etc.), which works wonderfully with the movie's flow. Some silly jokes turn up from time to time, and Stallone still has nothing to say about the action genre in general, but The Expendables 2 is a great deal of fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. How did it affect you? What impact did it have?
Is this sequel more or less violent than its predecessor? What expectations do you think audiences/fans had after the first movie? What's the appeal of these action heroes, whose careers range over several decades?
- In theaters: August 17, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2012
- Cast: Jason Statham, Jet Li, Sylvester Stallone
- Director: Simon West
- Studios: Lionsgate, Millennium Films
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, language and brief sexuality
- Last updated: November 5, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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