Review: “The Expendables”

August 21, 2010 at 10:21 am 1 comment

Tongue-in-cheek action movies don’t get any tongue-in-cheekier than The Expendables, the latest offering from writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone.  Simply put, this is a man’s movie; a kick-ass, loud, testosterone-fueled ride from beginning to end.  If you want action, this has it in spades.

The plot is simple: a team of mercenaries are hired to overthrow an unpopular dictator in a South American island nation.  That’s it.  Sure, there are subplots involving some of the characters, and even some unnecessary cameos (I’m looking at you, Willis and Schwarzenneger), but the focus of this movie is the bullet and body count.

Stallone has had considerable success in the past as a director, helming 4 of the 6 Rocky movies (including the excellent Rocky Balboa), as well as the latest Rambo flick, of which this has much in common with.  Stallone knows how to direct action, he knows exactly where to make the audience look in order to effectively wow them with whatever is happening, be it something crazy like an explosion, or simple like a punch to the face.  The sensitive, nostalgic director that gave closure to the Rocky films is nowhere to be found here, this is Stallone giving a helluva sendoff to 80’s action flicks of old.

If there are weak points in this movie, it’s some of the acting.  Yes, this is an action movie, so no one expects great acting to begin with, but sometime’s it’s really bad.  Randy Couture and Steve Austin are not trained actors, and it shows.  However, they aren’t the leads anyway, so it doesn’t really matter that much.  Stallone and Jason Statham lead the pack as Barney Ross and Lee Christmas, and they do a fine job, all things considered.  Eric Roberts also turns in a great, hammy, B-movie performance as the film’s villain.  Apparently, Sly also has a thing for funny-sounding names, given Jet Li’s character the name of ‘Yin Yang’, and Terry Crews’ character ‘Hale Caesar’.

The Expendables is pretty much the exact opposite of something like Inception.  While Nolan likes to craft a thinking man’s action movie, Stallone prefers to go the more simplistic route.  And, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  The final 20 minutes of this movie has so much violence, so many explosions, so many knives being thrown, that it’s almost hard to keep track of what the hell is going on.

And that’s the fun of this movie.



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