Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Expendables **
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture
Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke
Steve Austin, David Zayas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis
It's a who's who of the most famous action stars of the past three decades in The Expendables, a movie so peculiar that you know no coherent plot is necessary to make it work.
Sly plays Barney Ross, the leader of a mercenary team that includes the characters played by Li, Statham, Lundgren and Crews. No character description could make justice to the stereotypes each of them are playing but this is supposed to be part of the fun.
The Expendables, as they name themselves, are hired by a mysterious man (Willis) to overthrow the dictator (Zavas) of the fictitious island of Vilena. Without even knowing who they're actually working for, but with the promise of fresh victims to decapitate, mutilate and several other CGI verbs, the team takes on the mission.
From the moment of its conception it was obvious that this movie wasn't meant for everyone, after all even its title makes a mockery out of the entire thing to declare this isn't the kind of movie that will rack up awards or change the face of acting (although Rourke does display some serious acting that somehow feels funny in the context, after all his character is named Tool...)
However what might disappoint some is the fact that for all the trivia, references and plain tackiness that surrounds it, the movie isn't really that much fun.
The dialogues, as terrible as they are, could've been at least quotable. The action sequences, as demented and gratuitous as they are, could've at least tried to allow us to see what was going on (especially when they had acrobats like Statham and Li at their service).
The film takes itself so seriously that it forgets that we are living in an era where postmodernist riffs on B-movies are sometimes considered works of genius (see everything Quentin Tarantino touches) and instead of trying to deliver this, The Expendables settles for being another bad movie like the ones these actors are used to making.
Think of it as an Ocean's Eleven with more face lifts, steroids and no real sense of humor (except for Statham who single handedly uplifts every scene he's in). There's a scene in a church that should've been iconic but results awkward and feels strangely forced.
When it comes down to basics The Expendables isn't bad enough to be good, clever enough to be subversive or even bad enough to be plain bad, in the end it's just what it is.