The Expendables

24 Aug

Title: The Expendables
Year: 2010
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Writers: Dave Callaham and Sylvester Stallone, based on the story by Dave Callaham
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Eric Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger
MPAA Rating: R, strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language
Runtime: 103 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

The Expendables is one of those films that seriously delivers on the promise it made, and whether you like the film or not is based on whether you liked that promise when it was first announced or not. When I first heard the proposition I thought it would make for some good fun, you know, some nice old-school kick-ass action stuff, with all the older action heroes of Hollywood having fun together. I was sold on this from the minute I first saw the line-up for it, I didn’t expect it to be good, which it really isn’t, but I expected it to be, at least, quite a bit of fun, and on that front I would say it does deliver.

Jason Statham, the young one of the group, is nearly 38, and he’s become one of the biggest action stars in the world thanks to his leading roles in the Transporter and Crank franchises, the credits of the rest of the cast I don’t think I even have to point out, by this I just meant to say that this is the film that has the biggest action stars ever put together in one film, kind of like a cheesy-actiony-1980’s-Hollywood Ocean’s Eleven.

I mean, seriously, had Jean-Claude Van Damme and Wesley Snipes been able to accept roles in this one it would have been the ultimate action-star reunion film. Unfortunately, though, Mr. Snipes, because of his tax problems, wasn’t allowed to leave the country and thus had to turn it down, and Mr. Van Damme rejected a role which he deemed didn’t have enough substance, which sounds positively idiotic if you take a look at every single role that man has ever played. He wouldn’t know substance if it hit him in the face.

The storytelling is pretty damn bad, mind you, it’s all a bit too stale, just incoherent and full-on gratuitous. But I mean, the action is there, and Sly and Jet Li and everyone, so that made it work for me, and that’s where my problem lies with this film, I love the concept of getting all these guys together, and thus I do like the end result of the film because the action is pretty savage and everything, but, if the story had been there, this one could have gone down as an all-time great action flick, just, you know, if some imagination had gone into this one the result would have probably been totally different, and much much better.

This one opened on the same weekend as Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, two vastly superior films, and it became the top earner, it just spent this past weekend as the number one highest-grossing film at the box office again, so yeah, this film’s appeal is pretty obvious, and it’s selling well stateside and should continue doing great business internationally. And that’s what I mean, everyone will pay to see these guys team up together, telling a story of The Expendables, a group of pretty raw mercenaries which we see, from that very first introductory scene, do quite a helluva lot of damage, they are then hired to go to a Latin American country and defeat an evil dictator and a renegade CIA agent who’s involved in his business.

Mr. Stallone isn’t a great action director, but he knows how to do the stuff he does, which is huge scenes that look like something from a B-movie, he does that seriously well. And if not well, then at least he does it in a way that has a wide appeal to a rather big audience, this is one of the definitive macho films, with cigars and tattoos and explosions all in full display. This is not, however, a film to be taken seriously, this is a film to buy a big box of popcorn to and to sit down and enjoy, and, as I said at the beginning of my review, how much you like The Expendables can be sort of directly measured by just how much you liked the initial proposition of having these guys reunited for an action film, because substance you won’t get, but you and I, much unlike Jean-Claude Van Damme, know this isn’t a film a that really needs it.

Grade: B-

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