Directed by Sylvester Stallone
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
The Expendables should have been great. It had so much going for it. I grew up watching 1980s action films and have been patiently awaiting a new release that re-captures some of their glory. When Stallone announced he was going back to the well one last time, and taking a bunch of badasses along for the ride, I was stoked from word one and had to do my best to keep myself from going into a violent frenzy in celebration. Unfortunately, the film is riddled with flaws and would have benefited greatly from a script rewrite and a focus on realistic, physical violence.
Not much back story is given throughout the film, but that’s okay, we all should know the drill by now. In pure 80s form, there’s a dictator doing some evil shit on an island off the coast of somewhere. Stallone and his posse ride in to take his ass down. Sounds good so far. I’m willing to shut down the think tank if they’re willing to put up some awesome action sequences. Unfortunately, like most facets of the picture, the action scenes are more frustrating than anything else. This brings me to my biggest problem with this film.
If Rocky Balboa and Rambo had you thinking that Stallone was creating a good body of recent work as a writer/director, then The Expendables will set remote-detonated, C4 plastic explosive charges on those thoughts and completely obliterate them in a cloud of computer-generated smoke. Which brings me to my second major beef with the film. The over abundance of computer imagery, including blood, smoke and fire. I’ll limit myself to one abysmal example. Two characters fight in front of an obviously computer-generated fire. How hard is it to make a fire? Are we that lazy? Anyway, the fight ends with the bad guy getting kicked into the fire and his body is then engulfed in…wait for it…computer-generated fire. Normally, I would shrug this off, laugh heartily and enjoy the hell out of something like this, but because everything in The Expendables is played so damned seriously, it was near impossible for me to have a good time.
Only in the last few minutes of the film does the tone lighten enough to allow these guys to get together and have a good time. Now this is what I wanted from the get go! Damn, if only the whole movie was like this. There are a few other bright spots sprinkled throughout. Jason Statham surprised the hell out of me and was probably the most badass dude on screen. Terry Crews is excellently over-the-top in his limited amount of screen time and has one of the coolest movie guns of all time in the final battle. This thing will seriously go down in history and continue to populate Top Ten lists for years to come.