8/16/10

The Expendables (2010): Should be Renamed The Indispensables

A couple of years back when the first whisperings that there might be a project like The Expendables in the works, I thought it sounded too good to be true. I just couldn’t see Stallone being able to corral the action greats of the ‘80’s much less share the screen with them. His last film, 2008’s Rambo, was one of the biggest, splashiest actionfests that I‘d seen in quite some time, but I‘ve been hurt so many times by projects that either didn‘t materialize (Where are you Justice League?) or didn‘t live up to expectations (Does anyone else remember Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow ?) It was too much the action fanboy pipe dream. It was kind of film that me and my friends would have put together while playing Excitebike. Even though I didn’t want my heart to be broken, I kept an open mind and followed the development of the film (or it was following me).

Just in case you’ve been living in a cave, I guess I should give you a bit of an idea of what this “Expendables” I speak of is all about. Stallone plays the improbably named Barney Ross, the leader of a band of mercenaries played by Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture. The fellows get a job to remove a Latin American dictator General Garza ( David Zayas, Angel Batista from Dexter) who is being controlled by a rogue ex-CIA agent (Eric Roberts). The job looks like a lost cause, but when Barney is inspired by the General’s rebellious daughter (Giselle Itie), it stops being work and starts being a cause worth fighting for.

Regardless of all of that, The Expendables is a massive excuse to blow up tons of shit, pull off some spectacular action sequences, and finally (although briefly) get Sly and Arnie in the same film. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. While The Expendables doesn’t quite ratchet up the violence to the level of 2008’s Rambo, it still delivered a visceral thrillride. Though I do have to scold the film on relying too heavily on CG splatter, a no-no regardless of what genre I’m talking about. The best moments are less bombastic fight scenes. Lundgren and Li have one particularly spectacularly choreographed scene, and Statham has some fun on a basketball court that was one of the most crowd-pleasing moments. I don’t want to give spoilers, but for anyone who has seen the film, my favorite part concerned Stallone, Statham, a plane, and hefty amount of gasoline.

While the story is overshadowed by the action, I don’t think anything could overshadow the dynamite cast. While everyone was great, I have to pick out a couple of standouts. I am almost never let down by Dolph Lundgren, and this was no exception. His role is smaller than some of the other Expendables (I think he and Mickey Rourke have about the same amount of screen time.), but he really threw himself into it and turned a small role into a memorable part. A pleasant surprise was MMA star Randy Couture. I only knew him by name, but he came across very likable and would make for a solid character actor in action films. The last person I have to mention is Eric Roberts. Is there an actor out there that can do the smarmy crook quite as well as Roberts is doing it lately? Personally, I think not, and I could watch it all day.

I feel like it was Stallone’s intention to make The Wild Bunch of ‘80s action film homages, and he came pretty damn close. I left the theater with a big smile on my face, and all though the next day I was playing parts of the film over in my head. I’ve already had daydreams of who they could get for the Expendables 2. Nothing is more surprising when a pipe dream becomes an actuality, but the one thing you have to remember about this pipe dream is that it’s probably packed with C4. The Expendables is an explosive film on all levels, and I can’t wait until I can see it for a second time. Oh, and by the way, if anyone sees Stallone, tell him to give Michael Dudikoff and Lorenzo Lamas a call next time.

Bugg Rating


3 comments:

  1. Like you, I've been following and anticipating this film for a long while. I enjoyed it, but I think I enjoyed it for the bad things more than the good - I think if it were anyone else involved, I would outright call this a bad film, but with the cast involved, it's too charming to hate. I enjoyed the absurdity of it all (as well as the dialogue that didn't make any sense).

    My two biggest gripes, that I can't excuse: CGI blood/violence which I agree is terrible, and the poor editing during the action scenes (I liked the Li/Lundgren scene too, but it could have been shot so we could see more). Oh, and also, Sly needs to back off a little - my eyes started to burn after a while from all those tight close ups.

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  2. You definitely make me want to get off my oh-so-comfortable bum and hit a theater for this one. I'm aiming for next weekend.

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