Friday, 13 August 2010

The Expendables - Dir. Sylvester Stallone

Throw together five of the biggest action stars in Hollywood history, garnish with a little of the new breed, and serve up with a glass of freedom ($82 million refreshing gulps of freedom to be precise) and you have a film which harks back to the days of the 1980’s action genre, where films were more concerned with the amount of explosives used and excessive body-count, rather than the story and the rest of those ‘boring things.’ Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is the leader of the ‘Expendables,’ a group of mercenaries who take the jobs others wouldn’t even dare considering; over-throwing a dictatorship, and battling Somalian pirates is simply part of their nine-to-five routine. Alongside Ross is Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), an expert with anything that contains a blade, Yin Yang (Jet Li) a martial arts specialist, Hail Caesar (Terry Crews) a heavy-weapons professional, Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) a Swedish sniper and Toll Road (Randy Couture) the team’s demolitions expert. With Tool (Mickey Rourke), providing the jobs, arms and tattoos as a former member of the Expendables with his own demons in mind.

When the mysterious Mr Church (Bruce Willis) offers the dangerous job of overthrowing the island of Vilena’s evil dictator General Garza (David Zayas) and removing his American partner (Eric Roberts) and his henchmen in the process (Steve Austin, Gary Daniels), Ross’s former partner Trench (Schwarzenegger) stands aside to allow the Expendables to take on the almost suicidal mission. This in itself, is probably the films greatest scene with many cultural references to all three major movie stars careers and personal life’s being thrown abound (“he just loves playing in the jungle, right?” quips Schwarzenegger to Stallone). Once Ross takes the job, what follows is an explosive-driven finale which sees the Expendables attempt the impossible as they send five men on to the island to battle the General’s cantankerous army of hundreds (or maybe even thousands...) against the American invasion.

‘The Expendables’ is essentially an 80’s action movie. It contains the action stars of past present doing what they do/did best (Stallone attempts a flying armbar, Couture finds the perfect way to apply a bone-crunching kimura, and Steve Austin is characteristically inhuman), a typically weak and clichéd script that does contain a few cheesy gems among the stereotypical macho hype, and plenty (lots, and lots, and lots) of outbursts of aggressive, explosive violence from your typical machete decapitation to the more complex hand-held-semi-automatic-rocket-launcher-weapon-thing. The producers and Stallone have also chosen to employ two editors which is an uninspired choice, as the film constantly switches between the fast, freestyle, hand-held Bourne style of Paul Greengrass (in which very little can be seen or understood), to the normal ‘stand back and admire’ method of the static camera. While the use of close-ups are in full swing, as to capture the lack of emotion in a film of this magnitude, the audience want to see body-parts flying every which way Sunday, rather than the leathery skin of a old, and hard-working Sylvester Stallone.

This film isn’t perfect, nor is it a terrible film which contains more testosterone than sense. It is worth watching alone, just for the scene involving the ‘big three’ which is its saving grace. Aside from that however, it is typical action-orientated fan-fare. Remove the stars and you could have simply renamed this ‘Rambo 4.5’ as it contains the same limb-splintering, unrealistic, yet somewhat invigorating blood-shed that, that Stallone vehicle contained.
blog comments powered by Disqus