"The lesson here is that there is fighting, and then there is fighting for something good."
Review by Throwback
When word of The Expendables first got out, there was a collective “Holy Smokes!” (or perhaps something more colorful) from the action genre fan base. When you’ve got Stallone, Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Mickey Rourke, and more all crammed into one story, it’s a big deal; whether it turns into a rotten deal or a fantastic one. It’s still big.
Not as big as one would have thought, since the advertised appearances by Willis and Schwartzenegger were barely cameos. Regardless, it was worth the wait even without those guys.
Plot. Who cares? Did you expect a plot here? I vaguely remember something about a Latin American nation whose drug lord-owned dictator needed ousting, but that’s not why I watch movies with this kind of cast. If you do, there is something discernible there; it’s just not very important. If you’re like me, though, you watch these movies because there’s a group of good guys and a group of bad guys and stuff gets blowed up real good. That might make me a shallow person, but I’ve never shied away from such labels.
Putting plot aside for the action, it was everything I thought it would be. Lots of gunfights and explosions, with a bit of car chase and hand-to-hand thrown in for good measure made for a fun, exciting film. I’m sure Rex Reed and Roger Ebert hated it. This is not Oscar material. It’s a good movie that people will see to be entertained. Stallone was directing, so take that for what it’s worth. For some reason, there was a lot of space dedicated to off-message things. Statham, for example, takes out a whole basketball court of guys in what I can only guess was an effort to get him more screen time. Randy Couture was allowed to talk. You just have to push through these items in order to get back to all the awesome parts where stuff gets blown up.
The acting performances were basically all of these guys playing the characters that they’ve been playing for the last thirty years. I doubt anyone was expecting otherwise. The one guy that stood out, probably by both talent and design, is Mickey Rourke. People can think whatever they want about Rourke as a person, but I’ve never heard anyone try to compare his acting skills to the Jason Stathams and Jet Lis of the world. Overall, he’s got a very small role. It doesn’t matter. He is the focal point of the scene that is pretty much the centerpiece of the entire film. For no other reason, it’s valuable for reminding everyone why violence must be in context. Lest I sound hypocritical for recommending a movie that is so violent, the context is that there is fighting then there is fighting for something good. Fans watch these movies to see the good guys win. They are good guys because they are fighting for something that’s worth it. Mickey Rourke says it way better than me, but I wanted to give him some accolades here.
Yes, there’s foul language, but I don’t recall anything blasphemous. Violence is the name of the game here. It’s the graphic sort, so don’t expect you’re just going to see a lot of gun shots with some minor blood spatters here and there. No sex or nudity at all. For The Expendables, it all comes down to one thing, and the cast tells the tale. If you don’t like violent action flicks like just about every other piece of work with these actors, pass on this one. If you’re like 99.9% of guys and probably 50% of gals, you be supremely entertained. For that reason, I gave it 2 ½ tiaras, falling short due to its shallow plot, but not too short, because nobody really cares in this sort of film.