The Expendables 2

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Expendables 2 Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
The Expendables are still very violent but much improved.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 40 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The Expendables 2 is mostly based on/driven by revenge, which enables the band of heroes to kill any number of bad guys without feeling bad about it. At one point, they're asked to help rescue some captured civilians. They initially refuse -- a rescue would get in the way of their mission -- but they eventually do it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A strong female character who's a wise and skilled fighter quickly becomes an equal among the men. Although the men are violent and driven by revenge, their hearts are generally in the right place.


The movie's violence is strong and graphic, but it's also cartoonish and without much weight or consequence. There's heavy shooting, spurting blood, and many dead bodies. There are also knives and stabbing, hitting with brass knuckles, and martial arts fighting. There's a helicopter crash and a very, very quick shot of a burning man. One major character dies. A character is beheaded by a whirling propeller, and a main character brings back a man's head in a bag. Kidnapping.


One of the main characters frequently speaks flirtatiously to his girlfriend on the phone. Viewers see them together in one scene, in which they kiss briefly. There's some discussion about her "cheating." The main female character flirts slightly with the lead male character. Additional flirting and love talk.


Several uses of "s--t," plus "bastards," "damn," "hell," "ass," and "swear to God."


A large, old-fashioned Pepsi-Cola sign is highly visible in a few shots.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Dolph Lundgren's character has a history of "chemical dependence." He's seen drinking from a flask on more than one occasion, but he never seems drunk and is more in control this time around. Characters occasionally drink beer in a bar or clink bottles while flying a plane. Some characters smoke cigars.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRarityfan October 10, 2018

Christmas is coming!

Not to be taken too serious classic all star action movie that spoof the endless row of 1980's rental VHS action movies. Heavy on violence and swearing, an... Continue reading
Adult Written byMr. Swenson January 23, 2014

Great Movie for 7 Year olds

Great movie took my 7 year old son to it, and it was Great! Was not violent at all, and set a good example for him. I think the acting was great, and Language w... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySauceBroskie June 10, 2021

Really good, better than the first.

Ima keep this short and simple. No f bombs, minimal uses of the S word, a little more blood and gore in this one than the first. The worst of the violence is he... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCerealbox11 January 28, 2021

Knows what it is, luckily

The problem with the first movie was it took itself too seriously. This one knew what it was - a fun, violent romp of massacring bad guys. Even though it is sil... Continue reading

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?

  • Is Maggie a female role model? Does she present an unrealistic body image?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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