Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Expendables

Film: The Expendables (2010)
Dir: Sylvester Stallone
Rating: ** out of 5 stars

Nobody was more excited than I when Sylvester Stallone announced he was making The Expendables. I may not be the typical demographic for these movies, but the concept and the cast sounded awesome, especially after the wonderful bloodbath that was 2008’s Rambo. Yet somehow Stallone let me down with this one. The cast is underwhelming, the writing is groan-worthy, and the action is seriously lacking. A few moments deliver the goods – in the form of action and/or cheesy humor - but they are too few and far-between.

Stallone plays Barney Ross, the leader of a mercenary team called “The Expendables.” They are hired for a very dangerous mission on the island of Vilena. In true action movie fashion, the gang is unwittingly set-up and almost killed. And of course, there is a beautiful woman involved. Against better judgment, the gang faces off with a corrupt American business man (Eric Roberts), a puppet general (David Zayaz), and a South American army to rescue said woman and her people from a cruel dictatorship. Needless to say, lots of muscle flexing, gunfire, and explosions ensue.

The initial idea of accumulating all the best 80s action stars into one modern movie sounded great. Then as certain actors refused to be involved, the concept turned into 80s-action-stars-meet-modern-action-stars, which is not nearly as cool, but okay, I was open to it. The additions of Jason Statham and Jet Li made sense, even if I’m not a big fan of either. But Randy Couture , Steven Austin, and Terry Crews? Come on. It’s nice to see Stallone alongside Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, and Dolph Lundgren. And I wish Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger weren’t merely cameos but I can’t say I am surprised. Still, no Seagal? No Van Damme? No Norris? Couldn’t they at least nab Carl Weathers? What a shame. This self-proclaimed 80’s action reunion is a major let-down.

One of the better aspects of The Expendables is Lundgren as the reckless, junkie Expendable who can’t be trusted. He has the good fortune of playing the team’s wildcard, and he gets some hilariously corny dialogue. Roberts also gets to chew scenery as the film’s villain. These cheesy moments are just about the only thing worth watching in the movie. There is also an occasional cool action sequence – namely, one involving Terry Crew’s gun. Unfortunately, the scattered cool moments do not outweigh the painfully bad ones. Eighty-percent of the dialogue in this film is unbearable, and that doesn’t even include the corny-funny lines. It often makes no sense, or wanders off on pointless tangents.

Part of the film’s downfall can be attributed to the hype, but really it was never going to be a good movie. It was always intended to be one giant name-dropping cluster-fuck of a movie rather than anything with real substance. It doesn’t even excel at being a brainless, fun action film. The few attempts to revisit Rambo’s bloody glory fell flat with terrible CGI gore. There is so much wasted potential here it hurts. But if Sly gives it another shot, I'll still show up, looking for that epic 80's throwback I was promised.


Hitmandj said...

Great review, agree completely with everything said. It is sad for the potential the flick had, if just simply using the same type of effects that were in Rambo the movie would have been infinitely better even with all the shitty dialog, and not that great action sequences. Ah well, one can always pop in Die Hard and enjoy 80's action in its perfection.

Sean D. said...

I guess when you spend all your time focusing on a gimmick to sell to people instead of a story with heart, you get a film like The Expendables. A film full of mediocre action, and, as you said, some truly god-awful dialogue. This movie had so much potential, but it just turned out to be one huge letdown. Also, for a film that was supposed to be this mega-throwback to 80's action, what the hell was with all that CGI gore you mentioned? I'd like to know what made Sly think that was a good idea. People loved Rambo, so why not build on that?! Instead, nearly everything in this movie feels completely watered down. My only hope is Sly and company see plenty of reviews like this one. Maybe then they'll turn out a sequel that's everything this movie should have been.