The Expendables is fully loaded with an awesome punch of nostalgia. It brings back so many memories of the classic action films of the 80s, it is a nice throwback to that era. Loud action films have become somewhat extinct in the past few years. Movies like The Bourne Identity changed the way that action films were made, they had to be smarter and the hero not as butch. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Bourne films and these ‘smarter’ action films, but there is something refreshing about walking into a theatre, turning my brain off, and watching a manly hero blow stuff up and ask questions later.
Sylvester Stallone stars as Barney Ross, the leader of a mercenary crew that does odd jobs for payment. His team is littered with old school action stars (Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li), as well as some stars of today (Jason Statham, Terry Crews and MMA fighter Randy Couture). Barney is hired by an old acquaintance (Bruce Willis) to stop a Latin American dictator (David Zayas). Barney heads down to South America with his boys. He takes no prisoners, and maybe saves the girl along the way too.
My only real complaint is that this film is only happening now. I spent a lot of time during the 90s wishing that some of my favourite action stars would team up for a movie. It would be awesome. This movie is awesome for sure, but I can’t help but wonder how much better it would have been if this was made 20 years earlier when guys like Stallone and Lundgren were in their prime. The marketing for this film also annoyed me a little bit. Most of the trailers centred around the fact that Stallone was starring in a film with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They are in one scene together and it is very short. I would have liked to see more interaction between Stallone and Schwarzenegger, they have always seemed to have a friendly rivalry and it was cool to see them on screen together. Even if it was only for a few minutes. I understand why Arnold can’t be in the movie more (he was still Governor of California when this was filmed), but it is still a bit disappointing his role was not a bit bigger.
This definitely accomplishes what it sets out to do. It is a no holds barred throwback to a time when men were men, and explosions were huge. The Expendables is not for everyone, but I found it a refreshing piece of nostalgia and am looking forward to future instalments.
Safe to say I am not The Expendables‘ target audience. Setting aside that I am a woman (I don’t think this automatically excludes me from liking action movies, see Die Hard), I’ve seen very few movies starring any of these men. I have virtually no relationship with any of them, besides the vague sense that I know they make “dick flicks” (This is what I’m going to call movies that are the male equivalent of “chick flicks” from now on. Thank you, Internet commenter who introduced this concept to me. I apologize for not remembering your screen name or where exactly I read your comment.). I have little concept and even less appreciation for their body of work. To me this movie is just a bunch of explosions with a thin plot line, because I don’t really love any of the actors.
For someone who is a devotee of the dick flick genre, this is probably awesome. I can see the appeal of having some of the biggest action stars on the planet together in one movie. It would be like if Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Billy Murray, and any other comedic actor from the 1970s-80s made a film together. I’d watch that and probably defend it quite a bit even if it was only OK. It would be the “perfect” movie for fans, but possibly underwhelming for anyone unfamiliar with the films that made these men famous.
I can tell that they’ve tailored these roles to suit each actor. Stallone is the leader of this outfit, a role that suits him as the biggest name (and writer and director). Jet Li gets to put his martial arts prowess on display. Terry Crews is great as the comic relief. The only time this concept sort of backfires is when Mickey Rourke appears. His acting ability outshines everyone else on screen, and it’s weird to see actual acting in a movie like this. But other than that everyone involved is playing to their strengths and the result isn’t bad. It’s just not something I’m particularly interested in. Which is fine. This is a movie made for a very specific audience, so it should try to please them. No doubt the true fans love it, and more power to them.