Thursday, January 06, 2011


The Expendables shouldn’t be considered high art, not by a long shot.  It is partly a fun action movie that is direct throwback to the 80s action films that Sylvester Stallone starred in back in that era.  The movie comprises everything that was wrong and right about that era of action films.  So, that makes the movie both frustrating and enjoyable at the same time. 
A team of highly trained mercenaries takes on a job inside a South America island.  Their mission is to take out a dictator ruling the island.  Like most movies of 80s, there’s more going on behind the scenes than what they thought. 
There are many scenes of exploding people, cars, helicopters and various other things.  It seems everything explodes in this world.  When the movie focuses on the action scenes, the movie works.  The scenes are gloriously violent and over the top, and director/writer Sylvester Stallone handles them well.  Sadly, Stallone saves most of his bag of tricks for the third act. 
The third act is the only reason to watch the movie, and it certainly is a fun collection of action scenes too.  It is a good mixture of old school action set pieces and the more modern MMA style fight scenes from the new era.  Seeing Jet-Li and Jason Statham fighting together is worth sitting through the first two acts.  Plus, I loved seeing Steve Austin (Stone Cold) beating the living crap out of Stallone.  Stallone has a lot of skill directing action scene and that’s where his strength is its strongest. 
His weakness is writing, especially his dialogue.  It is the wooden dialogue that is the real villain.  Given the crazy action and situations, you would think he’d come up with better one-liners. 
The other major issue involves the uneven pace of the first two acts.  There are some wonderful scenes with Stallone and Statham taking out guards and blowing stuff up, but there isn’t enough of it.  It also gets bonged down with this message that Stallone feels the need to shove down our collective throats.  This is a living cartoon where all the bad guys die and all the good guys live, we don’t need the serious message, Stallone.
Other notes…
-Eric Roberts is Eric Roberts.  He plays the same role in every movie he’s in…himself.  His character is a bit bland despite being the main villain. 
-Dolph Lundgren:  What happened to this guy’s face?  His character twist is bit strange, but I enjoyed it given that he played against Stallone in Rockey IV. 
-Mickey Rourke filmed this movie at the same time as Iron Man 2.  He didn’t even bother removing the dye from him hair from IM2!
-What happened Brittany Murphy's role?  It appears her role was completely removed from the film.  Makes me wonder if it was because her performance wasn’t that good.
The Expendables has some good points, when it is merely trying to be a dumb throwback to the actions movies, but falters when it attempts to be deep and meaningful.  The pacing will also keep it from being one of the better action movies from last year. 
Grade: C

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