July 18, 2011

Rabid Rewind: "The Expendables"

The Expendables
starring Sylvester Stallone, Nathan Statham, Jet Li, and Eric Roberts
directed by Sylvester Stallone
screenplay by David Callaham & Sylvester Stallone
Lions Gate (2010)

In what can only be described as the brutish man's answer to Little Women, The Expendables dares to put Hollywood's biggest action stars--and egotists--on screen at the same time. But, does that mean it's a buffet of beefcakes and bullets, or simply a gaggle of gas-heads and groan-inducing dialogue? The answer: a little from column "A" and a little from column "B".

I don't think I need to dwell on the heady plot for this film, mainly because there isn't one. There are some bad guys in some "foreign" place doing things that bad guys do, and Sly Stallone is the leader of a bunch of macho mercenaries who are going to save the day with as many explosions and gory bullet wounds as possible. That's it. It is the epitome of the old school summer blockbuster. It's a throwback to those one-liner laden flicks from the 80s and early 90s. If you loved those movies, you were bound to get a kick out of this one--and revel in a nostalgic smorgasbord.

The thing that wound up dragging the movie down for me was when the bigger names in the film started hamming it up. Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwartzenegger each have their cameo appearances, and each of them seems to be either poking fun at the movie with their hammy performances, or they're just too attached to the past to do anything but lean on their past glory.

Why am I harping on the quality of acting, though? Was the action spectacular? @#$% yeah, it was! If nothing else, I got to see a ton of stuff blow up and a countless number of meat puppets hacked, slashed, shot, punched, pounded, and blown to bits. Gratuitous violence hasn't been this fun in a long, long time.

It's a guy's movie. It's not a date flick, and god bless you if you've got a gal who wants to sit down and watch it with you. Chances are more likely, however, your lady friends are going to questions your higher reasoning capabilities when she hears you yipping and yahooing through the flick. Buy her some flowers and rent The Notebook--or maybe Little Women.


  1. I grew up watching all of this movies (bigger) stars with my dad so when this movie came out I was really excited to see it. My husband & I rented it on DVD & as cheesy as some of the effects were it was definitely a source of action entertainment. I do agree, not all grils will dig this movie...only the cool ones ;)

  2. Definitely a favorite of mine. The plot was a little cluttered and you could see that each "Expendable" was vying for their own bit of screentime - but I definitely dug it.

    It fed my inner caveman.

    I disagree with your verdict on Dolph Lundgren, though. I felt - above everyone else on screen - that he was the only actor who was really trying to act...

    I am definitely looking forward to a sequel.

    Big yowza from the caveman.

    Steve Vernon

  3. I watched this the other night and ended up fast forwarding through most of it. I love action movies, but some of these guys should have stopped when they were ahead.

  4. It's by no means a perfect movie, but it's good. It doesn't try to be an eighties movie. Just a no-bullshit, balls-to-the-wall action flick. It tried hard sometimes with the gore, but it stayed under control. When Randy Couture ran across the battlefield to superman punch Steve Austin (who happened to be on fire) I almost cried. It was beautiful.

  5. Lin - I will say watching this made me want to see some of those old movies. My VCR is busted, though.

    Steve - Well, I was never much of a Dolph fan, myself, so I'll defer. And I am kinda looking forward to the sequel, too.

    Ryan - Sly looks ... well, he's looked better.

    Ben - I liked it when Ninja kicked Couture's teeth in better. :)

  6. Got to speak for us ladies! I thought it was a great date movie.

    Please don't make me watch Little Women, and if I have to see The Notebook one more time . . . something bad is going to happen to my brain.

    I'll take The Expendables action over genius plot any day.

  7. I certainly won't begrudge any lady who picks this over Little Women. Maybe if that movie had an explosion or two, I'd watch it.