The Old Dudes Are Back!
Have you ever been to an old high school reunion where a bunch of old farts brag about how allegedly cool they were back in the day? Most often wanting to relive their glory days. Well "The Expendables" feels a lot like that to me, when I saw it. Sure, I'll admit, I was intrigued by the prospect of some of my favorite action heroes starring in one movie. However, like all things I enjoyed growing up as a child, it seems there are just some that I've kind of outgrown over the years. Growing up as a kid, I can still remember getting stoked whenever Arnold Schwarzenneger would say one of his patented trademark catch phrases like, "I'll Be Back" or "Asta La Vista Baby" (Terminator 2: Judgment Day). However, as my tastes in films have evolved since then, it seems kind of sad that Stallone and all these old action heroes are trying to relive their glory days in one last action flick. Seriously, what do they have to prove? Has Stallone and all these action heroes become so desperate for a job these days that the only way they can assure a blockbuster is off a gimmick? An all star cast gimmick no less? Oh well, I can't really complain too much. It's not like "The Expendables" was a bad film by any means.....but it certainly wasn't great either....
As you've might have already heard, "The Expendables" features an all star cast of mostly action heroes, who have starred in their own movies in the past twenty to thirty years like Bruce Willis (Mr. Church), Jet Li (Ying Yang), Dolph Lundgren (Gunner Jensen), Arnold Schwarzenneger (Trench) and Sylvester Stallone (Barney Ross), to name a few. While others are new like Terry Crews (Hale Caesar) and Randy Couture (Toll Road). Does this all star cast ensemble work? Surprisingly yes if you want to believe that or not. Although it does come off as a male bonding testosterone driven movie to prove who can say the best one liners, while blowing up, beating up and/or killing as many people as feasibly possible. Indeed, "The Expendables" is truly a man's film in every sense of the word.
Sure, there's a love sub plot involving Jason Statham's character, Lee Christmas, where he has to deal with his girlfriend cheating on him with an abusive lover because Lee is always away on missions. However, even that never gets fully fleshed out due to time constraints, as it seems Stallone tries his best to give each action hero their perspective screen times. Which I can understand considering that was the gimmick that brought the audience into the multiplex to see it, but it doesn't really help when fleshing out the entire story of the film. Besides, the whole love story with Statham's character seems like nothing more than a set up for a bigger action sequence later on when he kicks the living crap out of his ex girlfriend's lover and his buddies; quite easily too I might add.
The film essentially follows a group of mercenary soldiers led by their leader, Barney. These men are allegedly the best at what they do, as they deal with the situations that even our own military wouldn't mess with. Soldiers for hire who one day get an assignment from a mysterious Mr. Church, who offers them five million dollars to take out an alleged evil dictator in South America. However, what the Expendables soon discover is that it's actually a cover up for the real threat behind the dictator. Now, I won't go into detail exactly about what that bigger threat is, since I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone. However, let's just say it fits perfectly into every other action movie cliche out there.
As far as story development goes, this film pretty much skips over most of it in favor of action sequences. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as it's been a while since we've had a good old fashioned over the top action movie. With stunts and action scenes that border on the line of the fairly ridiculous to the damn near impossible. But hey, it's a group of old school action heroes reliving their glory days quoting one liners while blowing crap up. Sure, it would be nice to see a great action film with a story like "Salt" or "The Losers", but "The Expendables" reminds us that action movies can often be over the top and be fun at the same time. Sure, it's freaking unrealistic when you watch some of the events of this film transpire, but it's not supposed to be realistic. It's supposed to be entertaining. That's what "The Expendables" reminds us about when it comes to action films. It's not always about coming up with the most complex story in the world, but just one that will be a lot of fun for the audience to follow.
Although as I stated earlier, that's kind of part of it's problem. Due to Stallone skipping over the story content in favor of action scenes, the story is no where near as strong as it could have been.
However, if your yearning for one of those old school action movies that emphasize less on story and more on the action, then look no further than "The Expendables." It may not be the best action film out there, but it's fairly decent for a rental. I would definitely give it a two out of four. Not a great film, but it's not a bad one either....