Rating: MA 15+
Release Date: 12 August 2010
check cinema guide for locations and session times
Welcome to The Expendables, ok here is the premise……have a movie starring a bunch of old, has been action heroes trying to relive their past blockbuster glory days of the 1980’s and 90’s. Yes it does sound like a train wreck is about to hit the screen, but hang in there and read the rest of the review. This is a film by Sylvester Stallone, making a comeback after Rocky (how many is it, please insert number here) trying to resuscitate his on screen career as well as directing and co-writing this with Dave Callaham. The thin plot follows Barney Ross, a paramilitary veteran (Stallone) who leads a posse of guns for hire but they only kill baddies in order to rescue the good guys. These altruistic mercenaries dont take on any job so we can feel good about the bloodshed and there is lots of it. Don’t expect just normal shootouts, car chases and bombings this is true carnage with bodies being mowed down in half. Stallone’s right handman and knife thrower extraordinaire from his SAS days is Lee Christmas (Jason Statham). He is joined by Yin Yang (Jet Li), as they needed to cover off on a a martial arts action hero representative. Yin Yang funnily enough wears mainly black and white clothing! Go figure! Dolph Lungren (Rocky 3) and Stallone’s old foe appears as sniper Gunnar Jensen and knowing their filmic history its easy to pick how this relationship will develop. Mickey Rourke as Tool is an ex-expendable turned Tattooist and arms dealer providing questionable advice on personal matters to the team. The rest of this motley crue aren’t as well known, so you can imagine who may have turned down a part or maybe it was a case of too many super heroes spoil the action? Jean Claude Van Damm was offered a role but apparently turned it down because it lacked substance if you can believe the tabloids. The film rounds out with cameos by some of the classic action hero stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis who sensibly didn’t feel it was appropriate to reprise their former action roles given their age though Willis looks like he could still pull it off. Schwarzenegger plays Stallones rival and former leader of the expendables just like their rivalry at the Box Office.
The casting of Jason Statham was a stroke of genius; he absolutely steals the limelight and gives the film some credibility. It’s obviously a corny film and not to be taken seriously with lots of hamming up by Stallone and the others in some funny and at other times cringe worthy lines and scenes. It is also interesting to compare plastic surgery outcomes between some of the actors while you laugh at how ridiculous it all is. But in saying that it was an enjoyable total escapist film. Its not trying to be high art and delivers in just being a silly tongue in cheek film with various in jokes. If the storyline was just a tad more be believable it might actually have been good and if it wasn’t for Statham and some help with Jet Li it would be a total mockery. Watching Mickey Rourke is a challenge in not feeling physically ill but he does what is required with his small part as a womanising sage. Oh yes and they have included the obligatory eye candy for the guys in the form of Charisma Carpenter, Gisele Itie and Lauren Jones. Itie as Sandra, the undercover Interpol agent, puts in a credible performance. Casting for the baddies they went straight to the top of the B grade movie pile with Eric Roberts as James Monroe, rogue CIA Agent and Steve Austin as his bodyguard.
The cinematography was a highlight with great action and shoot em scenes and the carnage quiet realistic. Maybe just a bit more Vaseline should have been added to the lens just to make these oldies a bit more easier on the eye. All in all an enjoyable but farcical action romp. Just be prepared to suspend your belief and sit back for a steroid and viagara fuelled escapist adventure.