Movie Review: The Expendables (2010) August 14, 2010Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
Tags: action, action movie, Arnie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Charisma Carpenter, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Stallone, Steve Austin, Stone Cold, sylvester stallone, Terry Crews, The Expendables, Van Damme
The Expendables is the type of idea that would have been really amazing 15, maybe even 10 years ago: an all-out action blockbuster featuring all the most famous action superstars in the world.
Unfortunately, as often is the case, the idea turned out to be a thousand times better than the actual film.
The Expensables may have Sylvester Stallone (Rocky and Rambo), Jason Statham (the Transporter), Jet Li (the guy with the Kiss of the Dragon), Dolph Lundgren (my personal favourite, Drago), ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Randy Couture (pro-wrestler/MMA fighter), with cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as fine macho actors Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, and beefy funnyman Terry Crews (every time I see this guy I think of White Chicks) (all it was missing were Van Damme, The Rock and Jackie Chan) — but it also has one of the worst screenplays (written by Stallone and David Callahan) for a blockbuster in recent memory.
Virtually no plot, uninteresting protagonists, horrible cardboard villains, even worse female characters, and dialogue that switches between grotsequely cheesy, cringeworthy and WTF — all these faults could have been forgiven had The Expendables simply been mindblowingly exciting and entertaining — but miraculously, against all odds, it wasn’t!
It wasn’t boring or anything, but despite all the fists, knives, guns, bombs, explosions and over-the-top carnage (think Rambo IV), The Expendables was nothing special. I was particularly surprised by the relative large number of slow and ‘character development’ scenes. When the action was going at full blast, I have to admit it was pretty good, but there simply wasn’t enough of such sequences.
Again, I go back to the horrendous script and I also partly blame the direction (also by Stallone). To me, it didn’t feel like any of the action roles were written with the specific action stars in mind. You would imagine that the film would play to the strengths of each of the action stars, but it doesn’t. I was appalled to see a hand-to-hand combat scene featuring Jet Li absolutely destroyed by rapid camera movements and cuts. What’s the point of filming a kung fu master using techniques that would allow any character to play the role?
Instead of roles written specifically for the stars, what you got was the opposite — a bunch of bland, stock standard roles that happen to be filled by past and present (mostly past) action stars. How is it possible that with so many fantastic personalities that not one character was interesting or featured an ounce of creativity?
As for the performances, they weren’t bad if you factor in the material they had to work with. With the 103-minute running time, there was really only room for two main leads — Stallone and Statham, with the rest relegated to filling thankless roles and cameos.
The reason I said the idea may have worked 10-15 years ago is because at least some of the stars would have been closer to their primes (and audiences would have loved the cheesy lines) . With the exception of Statham, all of the action dudes looked and felt too old for their respective roles. Now, it’s kind of sad to see a bunch of old guys trying to hold on to past glories.
Stallone, in particular, demonstrated perfectly why men over 60 should never use human growth hormones, work out with heavy weights, inject botox, pluck their eyebrows, or try to run with platform boots.
Ultimately, The Expendables was a good (albeit aged) idea that ended up as a failed experiment. It felt as though Stallone had put all his effort into gathering these amazing stars into one film rather than creating a coherent and exciting movie experience. What a shame. There was so much potential wasted here.
(In all honesty this is quite generous — but I have to give big kudos for getting all these guys together, and in particular the one classic scene where all three Planet Hollywood owners — Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger were on screen at the same time.)