Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Sylvester Stallone, 2010
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, David Zayas

I had exactly three expectations when I went to see this movie:
1. Watch an action movie with lots of fisticuffs and explosions.
2. Jason Statham.
3. Get to see Dolph Lundgren pick a guy up over his head and throw him.

All I can say is that these expectations were met, with bells on. The Expendables is exactly what any reasonable person would expect. Sure, there's bad dialogue, bad acting, and bad directing. There are also a shit ton of explosions and a lot of ass kicking. As the guy sitting behind me in the theatre so succinctly put it, "The only way this could be more American is if they served bacon in the theatre." Amen, buddy.

I'm not even going to bother to tell you the plot, because it really doesn't matter. Mercenaries get hired to kill people. It's pretty predictable and involves a puppet government in a generic third world country somewhere in South America, a sympathetic, but evil general, and a slimy CIA agent pulling the strings. There are a lot of references to other action films and in-jokes. You have to hand it to Stallone, because it seems his only goal was to bring together a bunch of '80s and '90s action stars in one film. For the most part, he succeeded. We get to see Stallone, Statham and Jet Li, plus a random handful of wrestlers. Stone Cold puts in a very serious cameo as Eric Roberts' right hand man, though Roberts blows away all of the other villainous characters. Mickey Rourke plays a tattoo artists who has no luck with the ladies and even though he just has a cameo, he is all around awesome. There are cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and their shared scene together is actually quite funny. The Governator even makes fun of himself.

And, in addition to Jason Statham, who I will watch in any big dumb action movie, I got to see two of my favorite action stars: Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li. I don't think I need to say anything about Dolph. Jet Li constantly surprises me. Aside from Baryshnikov, he's probably the most graceful man I've ever seen. Watching him fight is a wondrous and beauteous thing and he puts everyone else's technical skills to shame. If you want to see how it's really done, watch Once Upon a Time in China.

Despite all that awesomeness, the real stars are Stallone and Statham. They aren't going to surprise anyone with their acting chops, but have decent chemistry and deliver exactly what you would expect. Stallone looks pretty jacked up and covered in make up, which is downright creepy. Both men have odd romantic subplots, which don't have much a place in this film. The handful of romantic scenes feel stagnant, forced, or pointless, but fortunately they don't take up much time. My only real complaint is the slow place. Next time, Stallone, don't waste all your money on action stars. Hire a competent screenwriter and give him/her enough power to tell you when shit is stupid and the dramatic flow is grinding to a halt. Also, please find one who actually knows how to conclude a film.

My chief complaint is that the Rock is missing. Seagal, who had differences with the producer, and Van Damme, who didn't think the role had enough substance (!!!!!!!!!), are also absent. I would think that all these washed up action stars could just get it together, but I supposed egos get in the way. Give the world a solid example of leadership. Put together your differences and come together, on screen, to kick the shit out of some dirty CIA agents and their hired operatives. Plant some explosives. Flip some cars. Throw a few knives. Maybe even fire a rocket launcher. Is that so much to ask?

Overall I highly recommend The Expendables, but I love ridiculous action movies. This one attempts to cram as much action in its running time as possible and may be absurd, but is a really fun way to waste your time. If you like action movies, I don't know why you haven't seen it already. Here's the DVD.

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