The pinnacle of action movies occurred in the 1980′s with movies such as Die Hard (1988), Predator (1987), Commando (1985), Terminator (1984) and Rambo (1982) taking the world by storm and altering the genre forever. Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables attempts to capitalize on that nostalgic feeling one gets when watching those but fails to capture their essence. Instead, we are only left with feelings of sadness after being reminded that this era is long behind us.
The main failure of The Expendables is that it gathers most of the bad elements of the movies it is trying to replicate while lacking on the “cool” aspects of those 80′s actioners. From the first instant, the film has a very heavy B-movie feel even though it was made on a budget of $70 million. We get heavy doses of absolutely atrocious acting, a non-stop string of one-liners that passes as “dialogue”, jumbled and extraneous sub-plots, poor cinematography and editing as well as completely choppy action scenes.
The plot revolves around a team of mercenaries led by Barney Ross (Sly Stallone) which is commissioned to take out the ruthless dictator of a small South American island. The team scouts the location and discovers the extent of the problems there. They are confronted with the option of forgetting about the mission or attempt a suicidal mission to rescue the islanders.
Going into the movie, I was expecting a heavy B-movie feel however, the execution was very poor even for a movie of this type. The Expendables did not need a convoluted plot. Anyone would have been satisfied with a Barney-style story especially if it spared us from watching Jason Statham actually trying to act out an absolutely excruciating and incredibly sexist “romance” or watching Mickey Rourke mumble a lengthy and ridiculously out-of-place monologue. The action scenes are entertaining and fun but there isn’t nearly enough of them to cancel out the empty voids in between. Additionally, the editing was sloppy and took away from the action scenes. Why bother getting Jet Li, or Jason Statham or all those WWE guys if you are going to cut scenes to an average length of 1 second? Anyone can go and watch Rush Hour on cable and see better choreographed and edited action scenes!
The cast is full of big names but isn’t nearly as impressive as it was initially made out to be. Arnie and Bruce Willis show up for about 1 minutes of screen time and all you will have instead are guys like Terry Crews, or Randy Couture battling it out while Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham attempt to create some kind of chemistry that never comes. The characters are not developed at all and there is no camaraderie whatsoever between the members of the team. The dialogue between them is completely nonexistent except for a juxtaposition of one-liners that aren’t “cool” at all.
A relatively dull action flick that doesn’t come remotely close to being as cool as the 80′s movies it tried to emulate.
Notes: Rated R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language, 103 minutes.