The Expendables 2 Doesn't Take Itself Too Seriously

08/16/2012 at 01:00 PM EDT

The Expendables 2: Funny and Action-Packed
from left: Yu Nan, Terry Crews, Sylvester Stallone, Randy Couture and Dolph Lundgren
Frank Masi

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Unlike its predecessor, The Expendables 2 gave me what I wanted almost immediately: impressive explosions, a frying pan used as a deadly weapon and an airborne motorcycle crashing into a helicopter.

In a sequel that doesn't take itself too seriously, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his band of muscle-bound misfits are ordered by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to break into an explosive-rigged safe, which should be a cakewalk. However, after a member of the group is killed by the villainous – wait for it – Vilain (delightfully played by a preening Jean-Claude Van Damme), the gang sets out for revenge, joined for the first time by a butt-kicking female (Chinese actress Yu Nan).

Thankfully, by now, everyone seems to be in on the joke, keeping the audience alternately on their toes and in stitches – most of the time intentionally. Some of the best laughs come from the film’s minor players, Arnold Schwarzenegger and, most impressively, Chuck Norris, a self-described “lone wolf” who saves the day single-handedly. Twice.

No, this script isn't going to win cowriter Stallone an Oscar ("Rest in pieces"? Really?), but on a hot summer’s day, it's as satisfying as a cold beer

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