Friday, 13 August 2010
The Expendables - Review
The closest thing to a retirement home, for all our favourite action movie stars from the 80s, is finally upon us. Sylvester Stallone, riding on the successes of his latest additions to the Rambo and Rocky franchises, has decided to give all his old buddies a bell and give them some work which actually gets to be shown in the cinema! Isn't this fantastic?! Really?! Well not particularly...
The premise of the film is unsurprisingly simple. A team of elite, highly-trained mercenaries known as The Expendables are sent into South America to overthrow a ruthless cold-blooded dictator. But once the mission begins, they discover a plot far more sinister than they were led to believe.
I won't lie, when this project was originally announced, I was jumping with joy. But upon watching the end product, I felt slightly conned. I was expecting Sly teaming with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke for a dream team of epic proportions. Unfortunately Stallone chose to pair himself with Jason Statham (was Vinnie Jones busy?), Jet Li, Randy Couture and the dad from Everybody Hates Chris.
All sarcasm aside, the cast performed competently with the ham-fisted script they were given. Just a shame, the stand out scene of the entire running time was the five minute meeting with Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis. The chemistry was wonderful, and the inside jokes raised a smile or two in the audience.
If you love your Predators, Cobras, Terminators, Universal Soldiers, Robocops, Tango and Cash then the nostalgic experience of The Expendables is certainly for you. However, unlike two very similar films released this year, The Losers and The A-Team it didn't quite have the acting panache to go along with it. What the film did do however - unlike the aforementioned films - was turn the blood and gore factor up to 11, making for some stupendously awesome yet completely absurd death sequences.
Unfortunately The Expendables often pales in comparison to more modern and inventive action films, such as the Bourne Trilogy and even the latter day entries to the Bond franchise. Some might call this an unfair statement, but even compared to the films the older members of the cast were making 'back in the day' this film is indeed quite average - I was also deeply disappointed at the lack of memorable one-liners.
Obviously I can appreciate Stallone wasn't aiming for Oscar glory when writing and directing The Expendables and in all honesty it was only a Jean-Claude Van Damme (who turned down a role because his character apparently 'lacked substance'?!), Steven Seagal (conflicts with the producer), Wesley Snipes (umm...prison?), Kurt Russell (wasn't interested) and Carl Weathers away from being a genuine contender as a cult classic B-Movie. But alas it was not to be and we're stuck with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and various other actors of similar elk, frankly, very few people genuinely care about.
If you like your action films really really dumb, and I'm not even talking 'Michael Bay dumb' then by all means, get the lads together for 100 minutes of no holds barred, unadulterated, over the top carnage and violence. Just a shame the final cast list was largely forgettable and the plot was so painstakingly average, it made Commando look like Shakespeare. Do yourself a favour and wait for the DVD folks, which is what the film should have been released on directly in the first place.
See This If You Liked...
Commando, Rambo, Terminator, Die Hard, Tango and Cash.
The Expendables is in cinemas everywhere from today.