innocent_man: (mouseketeer)
[personal profile] innocent_man
The Expendables wants to be something that it's not. It wants, I think, to be a mashup of action movie stars in the way that League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a mashup of Victorian literature. It comes close...

Sly Stallone stars as Barney Ross (he also directs), leader of the Expendables, a group of badass mercenaries. We first see them taking out a bunch of Somalian (we assume) pirates who have kidnapped some American citizens and are holding them for ransom. One of them, Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) goes nuts and has to be subdued. "Life got to him," notes Barney. "It'll get to us all."

We learn a little about Lee Christmas (Jason Steakums); he's dating a girl (Charisma Carpenter) who's traded up for a dude that doesn't vanish for a month at a time with no contact. This stings, but he copes.

And then a scene at the group's hangout with their fixer, Tool (Mickey Rourke), and a meeting with the mysterious Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) and a competitor (Arnold Schwarzeneggar), and then zoom! Off to the island nation of Vilena to look into assassinating the evil General Garza (David Zayas), but then they meet Sandra (Giselle Itie), who turns out to be the general's daughter...

Look. The whole movie is an excuse for some kickass action scenes, lots of gunplay, a little knifeplay (which of course I appreciate), and a lot of testosterone. The finer points of the plot aren't exactly so fine, and mostly it's about getting all these dudes together on screen.

Which would have been fine: the team is Stallone, Statham, Jet Li (so far, so good)...but then we get Terry Crews and Randy Couture, both athletes, but not action movie stars (yes, they've both been in movies, but really, up next to longtime stars like Lundgren and new hotness like Statham?). They tried to get Wesley Snipes and couldn't because he wasn't allowed to leave the country, and several other attempts to get people who were more widely known failed. I'd be interested to see the sequel just because the team expands a bit and we get Van Damme and Norris, who both make sense.

It's an interesting premise, there are some cool stunts and fight scenes, and the movie is just internally consistent enough to be watchable. I'm not a fan of the girl getting tortured until she can be rescued (seriously, girls ain't shit in this movie but plot devices, but at least they don't get raped or killed, just beaten and waterboarded), and what was probably intended as a cute naming convention (Toll Road, Hale Caeser, Yin Yang) just kind of comes off corny. But hey, if the aim was to put together a movie reminiscent of 80s action, they came pretty close.

My grade: B
Rewatch Value: Medium-low

Next up: Face/Off

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January 2013

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