Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Eric Roberts
Written by: Dave Callaham/Sylvester Stallone
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

I can appreciate a brainless action flick, when it's done well; The Expendables, however, is not one of these. Despite a pretty impressive cast of 80's action icons and their current day counterparts, and some pretty cool action scenes, it doesn't come together to create something that can even be considered in the same league as something like a Commando or a Cobra. Instead, you can't help but watch this and think about how quickly this would have gone straight to DVD had Sylvester Stallone passed on it and didn't decide to use it as a vehicle for a nostalgia run.

So who are The Expendables? Well, they are a rag tag group of mercenaries headed up by Barney Ross (Stallone) and his second in command Lee Christmas (Jason Statham). Along with their lesser showcased running buddies (including Jet Li, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and for awhile, Dolph Lundgren), they take random jobs all around the world that require them to blow stuff up. Their latest assignment, given to them by the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis, in a cameo), sends them to a small island called Vilena to take down the evil General Garza (Daniel Zayas) and his American financier James Monroe (Eric Roberts), who have turned the island into a drug den ruled by an iron fist.

Simple, right? Well, it should have been. After the opening action set piece to set up the team, it goes off into its own little tangents that feel more like padding than actual necessary storytelling. Christmas has a romance with a woman named Lacy (Charisma Carpenter), which only has two scenes to develop and not only did I not care, I was wishing it had been cut out. This did not benefit the story at all, except to give Statham a chance to use his hand to hand combat skills to beat up a bunch of horribly acted tough guys on a basketball court.

The Expendables suffers from the shaky cam syndrome that seems to have plagued action movies as of late. When the movie, after what feels like an eternity, finally reaches the island for its big third act of doom, the action is frenetic and confusing. The cameras are up close and it's dark out. Couple that with a bunch of quick edits and it becomes impossible to tell who's from who at points. It almost ruined it for me, but thankfully, I've grown accustomed to it, even if it hasn't been by choice.

This is probably where a lot of people are going to disagree with me, but I have to say it: if you're going to get Arnold Schwartzenegger, arguably the biggest action star of them all, to do a cameo, at least try to have it make sense. His role (which is pretty much what you see in the trailer, minus some cigar chewing and sarcastic quips) has absolutely no point feels completely shoehorned in to get Stallone, Willis, and Governator into the same room for fans to go nuts. Stallone and Willis had a point; Schwartzenegger didn't, and that's depressing because that could have been a really awesome scene.

There are some good points though. On the whole, the acting is actually halfway decent for a movie like this, which I didn't expect. Dolph Lundgren sucks as usual (I'm biased because I'm not huge on Lundgren) and Randy Couture is unbearable, but everyone else does a decent job. Eric Roberts plays a cookie cutter evil rich guy villain, but he does it well having been on the B-movie circuit for many moons. Steve Austin, who has been trying to cut himself into the action movie pie, barely talks and mostly kicks ass, which is a good thing because he isn't there with the acting yet. The main Expendables have good chemistry together, especially Stallone and Statham, and I would not mind seeing them together again in something that isn't this bland.

Look, I get that The Expendables is going to have its fans; with such testosterone presented on the screen and some admittedly very cool action scenes (opening and when they get to the island mostly, despite the shaky cam handicap), people will go nuts for it for both its zaniness and the nostalgia of it all. If you really break it down though, The Expendables is nothing more than straight to DVD schlock in machismo clothing. It gets bogged down in unnecessary elements that feel like were added just to make it a feature length film, and on the whole, it just isn't that good or exciting. A good idea, but shoddy execution that'll ride that nostalgia wave into sequels.

Final Verdict:

12/5/2010 05:05:41 pm

I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post thanks.


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