Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Title: The Expendables
Starring: Stallone, Statham, Li, Rourke, Lundgren, Willis, Roberts, Austin, Schwarzenegger
Reviewer: Adam Wing
RElease Date: Out now

Like most teenage boys growing up, I wanted to be an action hero. Back in the day, Arnie, Sly and Bruce were my biggest heroes, and in truth, not much has changed over the years. The death of the 80’s action movie was a catastrophe, not just for me, but for the whole damn world.

Modern day action heroes are weighed down by emotion, they have feelings and shit now. I mean really, when did it stop being ok to sleep with the leading lady before the end of act two? Why do they always talk first, act later? When did they stop being sarcastic, and why did Hollywood stop blowing shit up just for the hell of it? Rocky Balboa and Rambo not only re-established Sylvester Stallone’s career, they presented him with an opportunity. Very few action heroes make the grade these days, except for Jason Statham of course; even my dad thinks he’s awesome. So when Stallone decided to put the world’s greatest action heroes together on screen for the first time, the only question I had to ask myself was... what the hell took you so long?

Let's be clear on this, if you’re expecting a review from a critical perspective, you’ve come to the wrong place, because The Expendables is not a great film in the traditional sense of the word. The writing is lazy, the plot is paper-thin and the action sequences could have, and probably should have, been a whole lot bigger.

This isn’t Stallone doing irony; he’s not trying to spoof the films that made his name. What we have here is an 80’s action movie, pure and simple. It looks like an 80’s action movie; it feels like an 80’s action movie, and if you don’t like 80’s action movies, The Expendables wont rock your world. When it comes to casting a movie, you don’t get much bigger than this. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean really, it would’ve been nice if Van Damme and Seagal had made an appearance, but there’s always room for a sequel.

Stallone and Statham take centre stage, which as it turns out, is a wise and rewarding move. I’ve always been a big fan of Statham; he’s the one modern movie star that belongs in an 80’s action film. Very few actors make the grade these days, but you would always bet on Jason to save the world, and he would do it with the appropriate sarcasm, style and wry smile.

Li and Lundgren get plenty of screen time, and it’s strangely satisfying to know that Dolph still hasn’t mastered the art of walking and talking at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want it any other way, he still looks like he could ‘break you’ with the merest suggestion. Jet doesn’t really have a lot to do, which feels like a wasted opportunity, but he does trade blows with Lundgren’s conflicted comrade, and there’s plenty of jokes about his height if you like that sort of thing.

Crews and Couture fill in the gaps, probably a good thing, I’m sure Couture knows what he’s doing inside the ring, but when it comes to delivering dialogue he’s out for the count. Terry Crews is much better, in fact if anyone deserves more screen time it’s him. Well I say that, what I really wanted to see more of was Mickey Rourke. Mickey plays Tool, a former operative who has his own tattoo parlour. He doesn’t really have a lot to do either, but his scenes with Sly are laced with emotion. I say emotion, again with the whole ‘not in the traditional sense of the word’ thing. It’s great to see the pair of them together though.

David Zayas takes on big bad duties, fans of TV’s Dexter will certainly recognise the face, but his character is riddled with moral inconsistencies and a severe lack of personality. But then again, he is playing the king pawn in Eric Roberts' chess game. Roberts does his usual scene-munching thing, proving yet again that when it comes to one-dimensional bad guys, he’s the best of the best (see what I did there?).

I can’t really remember Steve Austin doing much at all for the most part, but he sure nails standing in the background looking mean and moody. Austin does take on Couture in the big action finale, and it’s probably the films greatest achievement. Or at least it would’ve been, had it not been for Statham getting his hands on a really cool plane.

I think I’m forgetting something, nothing important really, just two of the worlds biggest ever action stars. It’s nice to see Arnie and Bruce for nostalgia, but in truth, their appearances are throwaway at best. Arnie makes a grand entrance before doing and saying nothing of worth. Bruce is certainly more entertaining and perhaps a sequel could throw them both into the mix, but if you’re tuning in to see the three heavyweights collide, there's a good chance your misguided optimism is leaving in a body bag. The sparring doesn’t really work, save one amusing line, and the scene, much like the movie title itself, isn’t worth salvaging. It’s great to see them together of course, that goes without saying, but you do get the feint whiff of missed opportunity.

The Expendables could’ve been the biggest action movie of all time, but it isn’t. The action sequences are entertaining enough, but they don’t quite live up to the high expectation provided by the big name cast. We’ve all ready established that The Expendables isn’t a great movie, not in the traditional sense, but that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. Statham, Stallone and Rourke are great value for money, and any film that dares to put these guys in the same film together has got to be doing something right. I’ve been waiting for this movie since I was a child, that’s over twenty years of expectation to contend with.

The fact that I still loved every pulse-pounding minute is testament to Stallone’s achievement. The Expendables isn’t the action movie to end all action movies, maybe they’re saving that for the sequel, but it is a whole world of fun. I loved it, and in the words of Lee Christmas, now there's a statement.

1 comment:

  1. statham jacket

    The Expendables 2 is really a great movie and i love the the of satham and iam a big fan of him