On August 17th, 2010, a film was going to come out that would bring the world’s greatest action-movie stars together on screen for an explosive and violent time (or so said the trailers). Not only would the film contain people such as Jet Li, Terry Crews, Jason Statham, and Dolph Lundgren, it was also going to be directed by the action-man himself, Sylvester Stallone. This film was called The Expendables.
Crazy advertising ensued and everyone who had an appreciation for the violent films of yesteryear were drooling for the film’s release. Well, when it came out, it was met mediocre reviews, and most people felt letdown by what was presented. The Expendables failed to deliver what it promised, and it was a shame because in every sense of the word this film should have been awesome. Instead we are treated to a film that is half-good and I am here today to weigh out the pros and cons. You’re interested, right?
Note: I also name the characters by the actors who play them because I’m writing this and you’re not.
The Opening Scene
The Expendables starts off strong as we are treated to our mercenary friends take down a group of pirates by shooting them in the face a lot! To hear Lundgren shout, “Warning shot!” right before he takes his shotgun and severs a guy in half with the blast from it, makes me laugh every time. The scene also does a great job of setting most of the character’s personalities and gives you some idea where the film will go. Li is in conflict with Lundgren, Stallone is the leader who makes the hard decisions, and Statham is having girl-problems. Overall, it is a well crafted scene that provides more than just a great shootout, it gives volume to the characters.
Terry Crews and his Shotgun
Terry Crews can be in anything and I would adore him in it. Whether it’s in commercials, a brief moment in Bridesmaids, or shooting mad dudes with a shotgun, he always has my attention. Crew’s character, Hale Caesar (get it?), is not a drawn out or detailed character but his moments on screen are worth every minute. It seems as if the guy loves nothing more than his shotgun and he is able to profess his love when he ejacualite bullets out of it in the end. Every minute that Crews is on screen is one of better moments in the film. Too bad there wasn’t more of him.
Fight Between Lundgren and Lee
After seeing some tension between the two characters, it finally comes to a head when Lundgren tries to kill both Stallone and Li. As if it wasn’t enough to see Li shooting out the back of a pickup truck, we get to see him do what he does best and that’s punch/kick people.
Hand to Hand Combat
So, anytime there is action going on, that is when the film shines. As you will see when I get to the “bad,” the movie becomes crippled by its themes and sense of blue-collar justice. When violence erupts on screen, that is when I brighten up and start smiling again. The fighting, especially the CQC stuff, is handled really well. Aside for some CG blood, all the breaking bones and busted faces look great. Check out one of the dopest scenes in the film:
Men Looking for Love
If there is anything that The Expendables doesn’t need, it’s sentimentality. All throughout the film, our heroes are pining for the love of women, or long lost love. From the start with Statham having girl-issues, it sets the tone for these rough and tough muthafuckers needing something else besides violence in their lives. Fine, that’s OK by me, but why are big chunks of the film devoted to this? Stallone wants the General’s daughter, Rourke talks about true love running from him, and the General wants the love of his daughter. It comes off a little silly in-between dude’s having their faces shot off.
David Zayas plays General Garza, a dictator of his own little island that has been taken over by American business men. You might know Zayas from his role on Dexter, in which he plays a GREAT role, but here, he comes off as unbelievable in his role of a tyrant. He comes off like Porky Pig in a uniform who needs to somehow prove that he is a fearless leader.
Mr. Church Scene
Towards the beginning of the film, there is a meeting inside a church that should have been one of the most awesome moments on the film. We have Stallone, Willis, and the return of Schwarzenegger appear together to discuss a mission. Instead of having the fucking most amazing thing you will ever see, it comes off as a limp-dick pandering to fans. The jokes are flat to embarrassing, the chemistry is fucked, and I feel mostly sad about what I am seeing.
Everything That Doesn’t Involve Violence in the Film
I have been beating around the bush with this one, but it’s true. The Expendables is at its worst when it is not busy killing a country of people. There is this whole theme about political strife and the effects of capitalism that seem not only heavy handed, but a bit unnecessary for the film. Eric Roberts does a great job playing the “real” villain, but his purpose is to further push the idea of greed, and what’s the point? I didn’t want to watch this movie for its take on relationship and politics, I came to see my favorite action stars kick the shit out of anything that breathes.
I think a lot of people take TOO much issue with the film, but I enjoy quite a bit. I can look at it and see that it is only half-good, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be entertained. With The Expendables 2 coming out, I hope it corrects what was wrong with the first, but honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing a similar film. How about you?