"Expendable" sort of describes the whole movie...
The Expendables is directed and co-written by Sylvester Stallone who also stars in the main role. The movie co-stars Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, and Mickey Rourke.
A team-up among some of the world's most famous action stars would, on paper, seems like a dream come true. The likes of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and Jet Li, have excited audiences for years, so wouldn't it just be the coolest thing ever if, instead of watching them kick ass individually, they would be kicking ass together within the same frame? The Expendables presents its chief selling point to you under the guise of being a tribute to late 1980's and early 1990's action, in which macho, trigger-happy smack-talkers took on perilous missions that involved a lot of running and shooting and also a lot of blowing stuff up. For any hardcore action junkie, movies don't come any more appealing than this.
In reality, there is no better word to describe The Expendables than disappointing, not at all living up to the hype that the movie sets for itself. For this kind of movie, it's reasonable to assume that things like story and character will take a backseat to the action, but man, I can't even say the movie gets its action right, and that is a sin this movie cannot afford to commit. However, given the movie's worldwide gross of nearly $300 million, I'm sure there were enough movie-goers out there who probably didn't give a rat's ass about how the action looked, only giving a rat's ass about simply observing the action that the movie promises. So spoiler alert: this movie will not engage your brain.
No, The Expendables does not have what it takes to keep your brain turned on, certainly not with the kind of bare bones plot that it contains. Sylvester Stallone portrays Barney Ross, the leader of a group of mercenaries titled - get this!- The Expendables. Ross and his team are assigned a mission to overthrow a dictator by the name of General Garza (David Zayas), who resides on Vilena, an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Their contact on the island is a woman named Sandra (Giselle Itie). Ross discovers that Garza is actually not the target. Instead, the target is rogue CIA-operative James Munroe (Eric Roberts). I am light on specific details for the sake of spoilers, but trust me, the plot isn't anything to get excited about.
- The final 15-20 minutes of the film is when we get to see all of the Expendables shoot, punch, and blow stuff up. There are a few other action sequences earlier in the film, such as Stallone and Statham taking on Garza's henchmen in Vilena, and then a car chase involving Stallone and Jet Li, but the finale when everyone is together is what you came to see. While all of this action should be an easy high point, I can't claim the action as a high point, largely because of how the action is hindered by chaotic editing that obscures everything and sucks out any and all fun that's present. Seriously, there is no fun to be had with any of the action, no matter how many bullets or explosions there may be. It's all mind-numbing nonsense that isn't the least bit memorable.
- That god damn screenplay, which was supposedly a third draft that Stallone and co-writer David Callaham used as a "starting point" for this film. It's laughable just how bad the writing is for this movie, with shallow plotting, equally shallow characters, and dialogue that will have you wishing for Stallone, Statham, and others to just shut their mouths and let their fists and guns do all the talking. The movie tries to give Statham's Lee Christmas some semblance of character development, evident through a minor subplot involving Christmas' ex-girlfriend Lacy (Charisma Carpenter), whose new boyfriend physically abuses her. This subplot ends as quickly as it begins, with Christmas just beating up Lacy's boyfriend and a bunch of his friends, resulting in Lacy getting back together with Christmas. Then we have Barney Ross getting the hots for Sandra, which eventually leads to my favorite bad line from the entire film, in which Ross states to Munroe who is holding Sandra at gunpoint, "I didn't come for you, dipshit! I came for her!" A lack of plot, one-dimensional characters, and awful dialogue all amount to the film being a rather unpleasant experience, and a major culprit as to why the action is so toothless.
How is it that you take some of the most hard-hitting action stars from back in the day, combine them with a relatively younger face like Jason Statham, and bring them all together in a film that ends up missing the mark on practically every level? The Expendables could have gotten away with its shortages of plot and character development, but the star power on hand can't create any sort of fun out of the over-the-top action, leaving the film as nothing but a disappointment. A colossal disappointment at that. Stallone and his veteran mercenaries picked the perfect name for their group: The Expendables, because expendable is exactly what this movie is, and an indication that perhaps this team-up of old-school action stars was not a good idea in the first place.
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