The Expendables franchise may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it could never be accused of pretending to be anything that it isn’t. An unashamed homage to the action movies of the 80s and 90s (with a cast that for the most part were the stars of those of movies and who had seen better days even back in 2010 when the titular mercenaries had their first cinematic outing), all of the Expendables movies are essentially a heady mix of gratuitous violence and cheesy one-lines, held together by the slenderest of plots. But if you liked that kind of thing in the 80s and 90s (as I did) then you’d probably find it hard to hate this franchise.
Arguably the best of the entries is The Expendables 2, which reunites the cast of the original (Stallone, Statham et al) with expanded roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, following on from their cameos in the first movie. This time we also get Chuck Norris thrown into the mix and a scene-stealing performance by Jean-Claude Van Damme as the bad guy.
Score for Christmasishness
Given that Jason Statham’s character goes by the name of Lee Christmas, you could make a case for including all of the Expendables movies in my annual countdown, particularly as I’ve incorporated many a film for more tenuous reasons. Indeed I might well revisit the franchise for future editions of this annual nonsense. But The Expendables 2 stands out because there is a picture of Santa Claus painted on the front of the team’s plane. Given that there are no other festive references in the film, I can only assume the image is somehow linked to Statham’s character, but it does add extra Christmasish credibility to the movie so I’m giving it a slightly higher Christmasishness score on that basis.