Reel Shorts | The Expendables

13 08 2010

This feature first appeared in Jet To read this review at its original source, click here.

In a year of big films, Sylvester Stallone’s latest threatens to dwarf them all with sheer action star power. His all-star extravaganza, “The Expendables” may not be the best film of the summer but this supercharged story literally dripping with testosterone easily is the most fun!

Assembling a crew of some of the largest names in action films in the past 25 years, Stallone has created an alpha males’ “Ocean’s Eleven.” Recast as bad-ass mercenaries, much like the “A-Team,” the Expendables take on the jobs that NOBODY else will. This motley crew quickly establishes their action swag, disarming a group of Somalia pirates using advanced forms of weaponry.

Seeking to recreate the dynamic successful employed by George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Barney (Stallone) and Lee (Jason Statham) talk about women, debate which is more effective between guns and knives and generally push each other to be more effective.

While they successful saved the hostages, the emotional toll cost them one of their own as Gunner (Dolph Lundgren) has become unstable and Barney kicks him out of the crew. His expulsion is a running theme in the film that in battle they are on top of their games but off the battlefield, the men are a mess. Many of the men’s moments of reflection, self-pity and camaraderie take place at the tattoo parlor of former member, Tool (a scary-looking Mickey Rourke) who dispenses advice and tats with equal pleasure.

Before long, Barney receives an offer that he can’t refuse in one of the year’s most celebrated scenes with former Expendables’ leader, Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Church (Bruce Willis). Taking a job that “only an idiot would,” Barney and Lee soon find themselves in South America scouting their latest assignment and barely getting out alive after a ferocious fight with rebels. Avoiding the voice in his head that tells him to walk away from this troublesome job, Barney’s motivation is simple – the love of a beautiful woman, Sandra (Gisele Itié). Preparing to go it alone, the “Dirty Half Dozen” come to the defense of their leader and ride hard on the guerillas leaving death and destruction in their wake in explosive “Wild Bunch-esque” finale.

Chock full of WTF moments and colorful characters, this story, co-written and directed by Stallone, features a who’s who of action stars including leading men Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Lundgren, Rourke and Statham. While Stallone was able to secure some of the action genre’s biggest names for this project there were plenty of other notables that were offered roles in the film and passed including heavyweights such as Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Wesley Snipes, Kurt Russell, Forest Whitaker and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.

Where the Oceans franchise was a true ensemble, too much of this story takes place between Stallone and Statham. Whatever the film lacks in storytelling, it makes up with thunderous, teeth-rattling action sequences including two of the year’s biggest explosion scenes. One of the film’s biggest challenges is finding enough screen time for all of the stars and to his credit, Stallone’s story gives almost everyone a showcase moment but some principles including Crews’ Hale Caesar feel a little short-changed – even though he has the coolest gun in the film!

Where the film fails is trying to provide sensitive moments for these “man’s men.” Toll’s (Rourke) admission that the senseless death of a woman on his last assignment made him want to “die next to a woman,” seemed misplaced and out of place in this macho tale. “The Expendables” is a throwback movie to the 1980s, when heroes kicked butt, fired big guns and blew plenty of things up. On the surface, the pairing of these superstars is probably twenty years too late but the action geriatrics still have enough in the tank to give their fans their money’s worth.

Grade: B-



One response

26 08 2010


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