Monday, April 11, 2011

Ten Statements About....THE EXPENDABLES (2010)

This version of The Village People may need work...
1) Make no bones about it--this is a very stupid, aggressively loud movie with a strong melodramatic vein running right through it. But Stallone doesn't pretend to have higher pretensions, and while he never goes so far as to wink at the camera, he never makes apologies for it. It tells you what it does, does it, and then thanks you for allowing it to do it.

2) That being said....there's a strange resonance between this film and his last Rambo picture. Once again, Stallone's character thinks himself past his prime but goes into battle to rescue a woman who impressed him with her actions.

3) Eric Roberts gives a clinic on how to play a rogue CIA agent--his James Monroe is what Jason Patric's Max dreams of being in The Losers.

My new hero....
4) I wish I had named a character Hale Ceasar before that sobriquet was placed on Terry Crews' character.

5) The script knows damn well what we're here for, and makes sure that every one of the action stars in the film (save for Mickey Rourke, who's here mainly to be a tattooing Yoda, Bruce Willis and the thoroughly gratutious Arnold Schwarzeneggar, who's there only so Stallone can make a joke about him wanting to be President) gets at least one fight scene to shine in. Even villainous characters like Steve Austen gets a scene where he dominates over one of the other main characters.

 6) There's a definite sense of passing the torch between Stallone and Jason Statham, who no one should ever, ever, ever mess with.

And you're in this movie why, exactly?
7) About Statham--he has a sub-plot involving a girlfriend (played by a barely-there Charisma Carpenter) that really adds nothing. He's pretty much the only character where we get a glimpse into his private life, but what we get is certainly a let down.

8) The CGI blood and fire just doesn't work. It looks fake, and draws attention to the fakeness of the choreography. The sameness to the splatter patterns is very, very noticeable. Hell--it totally blunts the denouement of the fight scene between Randy Couture and Steve Austin....and speaking of which....

9) I do like how Stallone knows there are certain match-ups we just have to see, like Couture vs. Austin, and gives them to us gleefully.

10) Jet Li may secretly be harboring a talent for being a comedian...because his justification for why he needs a larger cut of the take is hilarious. Plus, he thoroughly kicks Dolph Lungren's ass in what is a highlight of the film.

In short--it does what it says on the tin, and does so well. The trailers were a mish-mosh of action stuff, with the oddest being the ones for Buried, which does in a few seconds what The Last Exorcist trailer fails to do in several minutes, and The Green Hornet, which fails precisely because Seth Rogan is incapable of delivering a line without sounding like he's in a comedy. I know he's honestly excited to be in this movie, but every time in the trailer he opens his mouth the mood the trailer is trying to convey dies.

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