Oct 25, 2010

[Movies] The Expendables (2010)

The Expendables (2010)Action movies are fun in their simplicity. Sure, the writers can come up with whatever convuluted plot lines that they want or they can have the special effects team pull off the most ridiculous sequences, but in the end they're very, very simple movies. They're just meant to appeal to men's baser, testosterone-fueled natures in as many ways as possible.

Thus action movies need macho action stars to carry the charge. They need to be guys that other dudes, bros and jocks can look up to and idolize (but no homo, right?)

Pardon the attempts at uber straight vernacular - I know it doesn't fit me, but I was trying to get into the mood of things. Anyhow, the point about these big, bulky action stars is that they tend to be successful only up until a certain point. In the same way that professional athletes reach a point when they're no longer physically able to do all the ridiculous stunts that the writers and the directors want them to, then it's time to move on.

So this movie blatantly felt like giving a mix of old and new action heroes a second lease on life in a movie so overwhelmingly macho, it defies reason.

66ème Festival du Cinéma de Venise (Mostra), 1...Image via WikipediaThe Expendables is what can only be described as an ensemble action movie written and directed by David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone himself and directed by Stallone as well. Self-serving a little, yes?

The Expendables are an elite team of mercenaries composed of Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Lee), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lungren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Toll Road (Randy Couture). When a mission goes not quite as planned due to Jensen going his own way, Ross decides that his psychological problems make him too much of a liability and he is let go from the team. Soon after, Ross meets with another mercenary leader Trent Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a man who only calls himself Mr. Church (Bruce Willis).

Church offers both teams a mission to overthrow a brutal dictator General Garza (David Zayas). Trent turns down the contract given he's busy with other things and thus Ross and his Expendables take up the charge instead. They venture down to Vilena to some initial reconnaissance with the aid of their contact Sandra (Gisele Itié). Things don't quite go as planned and there they discover that Garza is being supported by ex-CIA James Munroe (Eric Roberts) together with his main henchmen Paine (Steve Austin) and The Brit (Gary Daniels). As complicated as things are, it gets even worse when Jensen eventually approaches Munroe offering his assistance in taking down his former teammates.

I could make the stereotypical remarks at how good the likes of Stallone and Lungren look despite their age and their limited movie options in recent years, but I won't. It all feels a tad too forced at times. Throw in Mickey Rourke (sans bad Russian accent) as a tattoo artist named "Tool", and you're old man crew is complete.

I knew it had reached a new height of ridiculousness when I saw that Eric Roberts was pretty much the main villain in the movie. I mean seriously, Roberts is like a storm crow for B-movies. When you see him involved in the project, you know it's going to be a crazy, campy ride. And he certainly delivered in that aspect. Combined with the antics of Zayas as the stereotypical South American dictator with a painting fetish and things just really get over the top.

With so many action stars in one movie, it's hard to really highlight any of their particular skills. I'm sure there was a sincere effort to choreograph group combat scenes but in the end it just gets messy and most of them end up just shooting guns. And this even applies to Jet Li who doesn't get many opportunities to show off his martial arts abilities. I think this whole ensemble action movie concept might work in the long run, but there's definitely a need to edit down the size of the named cast.

This movie has a horrible plot, horrible acting and an overload of testosterone, for better or for worse. But you're not going to go see the movie because of how potentially thought-provoking or life-changing it's going to be - you're just going to see it in order to shut off your brain for a bit, hang on for dear life and enjoy the ride as best as you can.

The Expendables is a potential start to a new horrible low in terms of action movies in order to make the most out of ageing actors' careers. It gets 2 ridiculous action sequences full of impossible explosions out of a possible 5.

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