Film Review: The Expendables

A month after most ‘men’ watched it I finally got round to seeing The Expendables last week. The gang’s-all-here exploding nostalgia trip has been reviewed to death, death itself a prevalent character in the movie what with all the shootings, explosions, and CGI blood, but there are some particular things I’d like to pick up on.

Firstly, the enemy. Obviously Stallone was aware that choosing a real country for an enemy would mean the movie wouldn’t sell there. Being Stallone’s opponent is about as enviable a task as playing against the Harlem Globetrotters, however the drug corrupt, stereotypical dictatorship led Latin-American country ‘Vilena’ fits the bill perfectly. The country’s name itself probably came from Stallone logically thinking ‘where do Villains come from? Vilena’. But not only that, the flag is a copy and paste job of both the Spanish and Iraqi flags, as if to say ‘they may speak Spanish, but we’re allowed to go to war with these guys’. The real enemy isn’t the country’s folk anyway, after all, they seem perfectly welcoming to Stallone and Statham tearing up their shanty villages in a 4 by 4, rather it’s the drug barons and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Sly with the only jump in the movie which isn't followed by an explosion

Next, the group. The fact that Van Damme and Steven Seagal are missing from the pack makes the movie a bit like watching The Sugababes. On the other hand we get heavy lifting from Jason Statham, a far more charismatic star than Seagal and Van Damme, and the most likeable presence in the movie. Statham, does the most ‘acting’ in the movie, and he also does a good job of beating up the cocky basketball players in a scene which is reminiscent of Will Smith being spun around at the start of Fresh Prince. However, some of The Expendables are hardly seen, I was half expecting Randy Couture to go into the warzone weaponless, convincing his buddies that he’d armbar the drug lords into submission. Instead, his main role is an ongoing joke about anger management issues. Another member of the gang, Terry Crews, just spends most his time using and polishing a gun straight out of the P.C game ‘Doom’, which is so destructive it leaves you wondering why they didn’t just drop a bomb and be done with it.

Finally, the story, there isn’t one. Which is fine as it’s an action movie, but they go to a lot of trouble just for some money and a pretty dictator’s daughter (who Stallone’s character is obsessed with after meeting for about a minute). Also, most action movies are improved when one of the ‘good guys’ dies, but this doesn’t happen. You can almost picture these action heroes in a run through, all of whom have amassed over a million dead ‘baddies’ in their films, all claiming their right to be indestructible. The closest we get is when Dolph Lundgren goes all ‘Ivan Drago’ on the group and Jet Li seemingly kills him. But don’t fear, turns out he survived and he’s back on the straight and narrow, where do action heroes go for rehab?

Anyway, the film was fun enough, and is certainly worth a watch, if only to laugh at all the action movie stereotypes planted throughout.



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