The Expendables Directed by: Sylvester Stallone Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews Running Time: 1 hr 42 mins Rating: R Release Date: August 13, 2010
PLOT: A group of contract killers go to the island of Vilena to stop an evil dictator and wipe out his whole army.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you’d rather see a movie like Eat Pray Love this weekend, chances are The Expendables is not for you. It's for audience mbmebers that like to “eat” “Green Berets for breakfast,” “pray” that no one lives at the end, and “love” every minute of a violent orgy. For those that do fit this bill, it doesn’t matter if they’re more familiar with the newer action stars (Statham, Li) than the “classics” (Stallone, Lundgren). Action fans of all backgrounds will feel fulfillment.
EXPECTATIONS: Is it so wrong that my sights were set higher than usual? Keeping it at medium expectation level seemed difficult, especially with the cast involved. With this action “Dream Team” it didn’t seem unfair to think that this movie had the potential to be god-like in a sense.
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross: Only Stallone could legitimately sell an action hero named "Barney," especially one whose soft spot for a woman steers the course of the story. As far as his character oeuvre goes, Barney Ross isn't going to stand as one of his more remarkable, but he still has some moments of fun throughout. Score: 6
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas: If anybody is “going through the motions” the worst here, it’s Statham. This is exactly the same ruffian that we have seen him play numerous times, except without the sharp clothes of the Transporter series. He has his own romantic subplot, which is a bit pointless, even if it does try to give his character a bit of a dimension. Score: 4
Eric Roberts as James Munroe: Though he’s hardly menacing, he can pull off the slick look well (but he even did this for different "Killers," for their “Mr. Brightside” music video). Hardly intimidating, his appearance is supported more by his (intentionally) terrible lines than any presence with a gun. Like in many action movies before The Expendables, he’s just another rich a**hole with a pistol. One can imagine how anticlimactic he makes the last duel between himself and Stallone. Score: 5
Mickey Rourke as Tool: His appearance is limited, but fans of Rourke will appreciate that he (once again) upsets his tough-guy look by showing a sensitive side. As the owner of the shop that Barney and co. fraternize at, Rourke doesn’t get his hands dirty with any blood. But he does shed a few tears in a random monologue that means very little to the rest of the movie. Score: 4
Rest of the cast: The cast is loaded, but the overall character construction does not shoot for anything new. Instead, actors like Terry Crews, Jet Li, are blended to be similar, with only their pre-made characteristics lending towards any bit of a distinctive appearance. With so much variety being put into this casting, it should feel like a sort of Justice League mix-up. Instead, it feels like a group of badasses all trying to be the same action hero. Score: 6
TALKING: The amount of funny lines is plentiful, as it encompasses both cheesy and naturally comedic styles. Example: After saving his pals by blowing away some bad guys, Crews screams, “Remember that sh*t at that Christmas!” The funniest sequence is the holy cameo scene, which has Schwarzengger riff-raffing with Stallone. Also, the concept of women seems to be included in the entire film just so the guys can have something to talk about when reloading their massive weapons. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Visually, it becomes apparent that the budget went into actor paychecks more than it did effects or general aesthetics. Some special effects are distractingly bad, and there are a couple of scenes where the camera has unfortunate placement (such as during a visually crowded hand-to-hand battle with Jet Li). The main course of slam bang action, however, does not disappoint. While knifing sometimes gets redundant here in The Expendables, watching bodies explode from abrupt bullet impact does not. Score: 8
SOUNDS: That sound of a whole island being blown up to kingdom come is also the sound of your ear drums exploding. Unless the projectionist was playing a trick on us, this is one of the loudest movies I’ve ever seen. The volume is so high that everything, from door slams, to knife throws, sounds like an explosion. Even the music is loud – Stallone loves to crank out the classic rock, representing musicians like John Fogerty and closing his film with “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: The final battle assumes its own place of action glory, despite it’s imperfection (it’s not as awesome as it could have been). But within this moment is the usage of Terry Crews’ gun, which is worth the price of action-movie admission alone. It provides the chaotic scene with the proper amount of gun-ho explosiveness ridiculous, and that being said, gave me a warm and fuzzy flashback to my religious viewings of Commando.
ENDING: Open for a sequel, which apparently Stallone has an idea for. I’m hoping in the next movie, Statham will apologize for throwing his knife at the audience.
QUESTIONS: Am I missing something, or is the body count almost at a record high? Or just simply, what the hell is the body count here?
REWATCHABILITY: This one doesn’t have massive replay value, but it will be fun to see again. Maybe in a second viewing the action will make more sense, even though I am not excited about experiencing that large dip of boredom in the second act when they go to Vilena for the first time. I can see a lot of people owning this on DVD, but I am not sure as to how many times they’ll have fun watching it.
There’s a little saying that is often used to describe male genitalia. You may have heard it. It goes like this: “It’s not the size that matters. It’s how you use it.” The same can be said with the holy casting of The Expendables, which takes the kind of line-up we’ve dreamed about for years, and offers disappointing imperfections. If you have a dream cast like this, it should be a dream movie, right? Instead, The Expendables is fleeting; the overall package is more simple than it is epic. The title mercenaries hop back and forth between two islands, blow up things, and then leave. The main bad guy is some yuppie, and the entire base of the mission is based around … a girl. That being said, there are a good amount of awesome moments, something that thankfully outweighs those of the “awesomely bad” variety. Sometimes the SFX look too cheap, but there’s always a backwards neck snap or explosive rifle to put things back into 80's style bloodthirsty nutsiness.
The winking nature of this script is almost pretentious. Examples: Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzengger meet inside a church, (not formerly called Planet Hollywood by my understanding) former WWE entertainer Steve Austin literally wrestles with UFC fighter Randy Couture, etc. It is amusing that Stallone’s co-written script makes so many references to the careers of his co-stars, but with a mission to just deliver one helluva action flick, it doesn’t seem necessary.
I mean, who cares, right? You see a movie like Expendables, and you want to see total death and destruction. Considering that simple requirement, Stallone (and his professionally bad ass crew) awesomely get the job done.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10